Q: My younger brother is gay, and I've overheard him talk about sexting on his cell phone. I know every generation has its slang, but what exactly is this? Any harm? -- Worried Older Bro
A: It's simple enough: Sexting is the sending of nude (or semi-nude) photos with your cell. Not long ago I was at a party and walked over to a small group gathered a round a cell phone. Lo and behold, I found myself staring at a rather large penis on the screen. In hushed tones, the cell phone owner pointed out the penis owner across the room who was completely unaware of the party favor he had supplied to the rest of us.
"Yikes," you say. Indeed. A recent study reported that 20 percent of teens have sent sexually explicit photos of themselves - although the phenomenon is hardly limited to those underage and is quite common in the LGBT community, too. Like e-mail gone wild, once "sexted," your little bro's photos are out of his control - now and forever. So, give him some of your older brother perspective: What seems fun and harmless today might not seem so another day. And while you don't mention where you're from, in some states like Pennsylvania and Florida, sexting is a crime. Earlier this year, three teens who e-mailed nude or semi-nude photos of themselves to friends were charged with "creating, distributing and possessing child pornography." Bottom line, don't let your brother get caught with his pants down - so to speak - at least not on camera.
Note to straights: All the high-profile sexting cases have been among heterosexual teens, including the suicide of one young girl who sexted a photo of herself and could not live with the severe embarrassment.
A different version of this post appeared in The Independent Weekly. If you have a queery, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.