Suffolk: Mobile phones are ‘new bike shed’

THE mobile phone has become the new way for school pupils to share illicit experiences - taking over from the traditional space behind the bike shed.

That’s the claim made by a lecturer at University Campus Suffolk (UCS) who is due to publish her studies in a media journal next month.

Dr Emma Bond, a Senior Lecturer in Childhood and Youth Studies at UCS, claims that young people are using phones to explore each others bodies, obtain and share pornography and bully each other in the same way that previous generations went behind the bike shed to do.

Dr Bond said: “The research shows how children are using mobile phones in obtaining sexual material, developing their sexual identities and in their intimate relationships with each other.

“The bike shed offers a useful metaphor as a generation or so ago teenagers used to go ‘behind-the-bike-shed’ to find a space where they could embark on exploring each others bodies or get hold of pornography.

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“Today it is very different and incredibly easy for young people to take intimate images of themselves and send them to someone else via a text message or via the internet all in a few seconds and all from their mobile phone.

“There’s hardly time to reflect and think that this may not be such a good idea”.

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The research reiterates the well accepted notion that young people establish complex and emotional relationships with each other but also indicates that the context in which these are played out is very different to even a few years ago.

It reveals that children nowadays lead media saturated lives due to the incredible advances in technology and their rapid adoption into everyday use.

Dr Bond added: “One girl told me how a girl in her class had taken what she described as ‘revealing photographs of herself’ and sent them to her boyfriend but when they split up he sent them to everyone in the class.

“These experiences can clearly be very traumatic for young people but it is often not until it happens or happens to someone close to them that they actually realise the potential consequences of their actions.

“We need to take our head out of the sand and talk to children and young people about what they are doing with there mobile phones and in virtual environments.”

Dr Bonds findings will be published in New Media and Society, an international journal that publishes media and social research.

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