TL;DR (a 3 sentence summary)
Teens are sexting at an increasing rate, but it isn’t something to fear. In today’s digital world, sexting has become a natural part of the process. We were asked to tackle social media among teens, and we created a program to make sexting a safe and positive part of teen sexual exploration by provoking teens to start powerful conversations about sexting.
We were asked to find out how teens are using social media and how it may impact the parent/child relationship.
What piqued our interest
We kept hearing about sexting, over and over again.
it’s always someone else’s kid.
it’s always one of their friends, classmates, or “the bad kid”.
sexting is an issue they are responsible for disciplining.
Youth + sexuality = a sticky subject
It’s an untraveled road
Sexting has a variety of definitions depending on who you’re talking to or what source you’re reading.
What it is
Sexually suggestive or explicit content via text, social media, email, etc.
What it’s not
Phone or video sex
We found a ton of interesting research. Here is an infographic-y summary of our learnings.
The wide use of mobile phones has reshaped the “bases” in teenage sexual exploration - and it’s far more common than many would like to admit. Parents and educators preach an abstinence message based on legal consequences. Abstinence messaging is not effective, and legal consequences do not resonate with teens.
How can we make sexting a safe + positive part of teen sexual exploration?
Reframe the conversation around teen + young adult sexting to prompt conversations about boundaries.
We were inspired by the Truth campaign’s ability to use positive peer-to-peer social pressure to empower young people to make informed decisions about smoking by arming them with facts, creating what felt like a countercultural movement.
We found five reasons for the Truth campaign's success:
Allowed youth to make informed decisions by providing facts
Repositioned youth as rebellious against the cigarette companies
Focused on health effects and social costs
Created a strong counter-culture brand
Promoted positive peer pressure
What we did
Leveraged and refreshed an existing brand, A Thin Line by MTV, from identity and personality to purpose and values.
Developed a communications plan to reach young adults, parents, and educators
Created a digital tool to help start conversations about drawing safe boundaries around sexting
Why it works
The program, campaign, and digital product work together to confront the societal association between sexting and deviance in order to normalize sexting for safe + positive teenage sexual exploration.
Video interview assignments
Reddit forum focus group
Facebook forum focus group
Tapped university resources
Market research studies
Hannah Barr - Strategist
Mary Gray Johnson - Strategist
Missy Thieman - Experience Designer