Why Detoured, the Anti- Sexting App, was Created

Nov 11, 2017

Let’s all face it, we all have issues with technology addiction – our phones are an extension of our lives and teens are no different. Many teens’ first interaction with new friends, platonic and “more than friends” is through app. In fact, some their entire relationships can take place within an app or social media site.

Pew Research reports that, “57% of teens ages 13 to 17 have made a new friend online, with 29% of teens indicating that they have made more than five new friends in online venues. Most of these friendships stay in the digital space; only 20% of all teens have met an online friend in person.”

The challenge for parents with their children spending so much time in apps and on social media is the behavior of how kids interact digitally. For many, there is a difference in the behavior they would exhibit face-to-face. Getting outlawing or restricting a particular app is easier said than done, according to Robert Appleton, the New York State Internet Crimes Against Children task force commander. “The kids don’t want their parents to discover what they’re using, so every time a new app comes out, they’re switching.”

This behavior can have life-long consequences with sexting becoming a more prevalent mode of communication with teens, rather than traditional flirting. Instead of a young girl passing a love note in class, she now sends an intimate picture of herself to her boyfriend or “potential boyfriend.”

The sexting scenario above is all too common today and when an image is shared beyond the young couple, there can be severe emotional and legal consequences for anyone in possession of the intimate image.

I became very aware of the consequences of teen sexting gone bad when my step-son was in high school. A young girl, let’s call her Anna, and her boyfriend, we’ll call him Steve, are high school sweethearts. Anna voluntarily begins sending sexting images to her boyfriend, Steve. Anna’s family moves to another state. Anna meets someone in her new state and the couple break-up. Steve is sad, hurt, and angry so he shares her sexting image with his fellow lacrosse teammates. Those teammates send to 10 friends and then those 10 friends send to 10 friends and so on.

Within a few months, that image is on the devices of practically every high school student, not just in that school, but in the neighboring high schools in other districts. My step-son was not Steve, not on the lacrosse team, and didn’t even have Steve as a contact or friend in his social media platforms but he was sent the image from a friend of a friend.

My step-son made the mistake of posting on a group forum and a few weeks later we had a detective from a child sex crime unit requesting permission to talk to my step-son.

My step-son, as well as anyone who also posted or shared the image, was looking at potentially being charged with a felony for trafficking child pornography. My step-son happened to be a minor at the time and the image was so widely distributed within the different school districts in the area that the District Attorney’s office ended up not prosecuting anyone.

Anna’s family dropped their complaint when they were informed that the first person who would be charged would be Anna because, even though it was her image, she would be subjected to the same penalty as everyone else for sharing a pornographic image of a minor over the internet.

LEGAL CONSEQUENCES OF SEXTING

It’s easy to see how a private image, that may have been an expression of infatuation or love, can quickly turn into a nightmare for everyone involved when intimate images become very public.

No matter how old the person sharing the images and video is, sharing a sexually explicit photograph of a minor with another person may violate child pornography laws of your state and punishment can include felony penalties, as well as being registered as a sex offender. As a parent, I was clueless of the legal consequences of sexting as was my step-son and so are other families.

“More than 40% of teens have engaged in sexting and 61% who send sexts aren’t aware that it could lead to criminal prosecution,” said Mike Burns, co-founder and CEO of Zift. “Parents are waking up to the fact that they need to do all they can to prevent their children from inadvertently or purposefully sending nude or pornographic images, so they cannot be accused of online harassment or breaking the law.”

To find out the laws of your state on sexting, click here.

WHEN SEXTING GOES VIRAL & TURNS INTO REVENGE PORN

The term “revenge porn” is often used in the news, but a more accurate description is ‘the distribution of sexually graphic images of individuals without their consent, also known as non-consensual pornography.’ Digital images can easily be shared beyond the intended recipient and many of the sharers may not be doing it out of revenge, as much as just passing the image along to their base of friends.

Revenge porn affects more people than most parents are aware and the “not my child” attitude is a typical parental response, but the statistics tell a very different story. One in 25 Americans are victims of revenge porn. The vast majority of the offenders are ex-boyfriends, but others also participate, according to a study by Cyber Civil Rights Initiative.

First Line of Defense is Communication

Today, more than ever, it is extremely important to discuss privacy and self-respect with your children and teens. If your child is in her tween or teens and you haven’t yet discussed sexting and what is appropriate to share, you need to have that conversation now.

As a first defense, arm your child with information that may help them pause before they act; let them know they can talk to you if they feel pressured to sext and the potential legal consequences of having or sending a sexually explicit photo.

If someone you love is a victim of revenge porn, it’s important to understand that they need your support. While there is plenty of victim blaming, both online and in print, try to be as supportive as possible at home.

Install the Detoured: Anti-Sexting App on your family’s android devices, so when nudity or pornography is detected by Detoured’s new QuickScan image analyzing technology, the image is immediately stored and quarantined in the Detoured app and locked down, and the parent is notified by e-mail.

Quarantined images cannot be accessed without a password, which the parent will create during the app’s installation process. Parents can decide whether to delete the image or not and, more importantly, they are alerted so they can have an age-appropriate discussion with their child.

Knowing about the image before it can be sent to another recipient by your child is crucial, no matter how the image was obtained, which could include:

  • Taken with a smartphone’s camera
  • Downloaded from the internet
  • Saved from a message

Detoured allows parents and their children to be better positioned in order to avert embarrassment and humiliation if a sexting scandal takes place in their community. Additionally, kids associated with Detoured could be more likely to avoid possible school suspensions, police involvement and in some states, criminal charges, that could compromise their future academic and career opportunities.

More information about the Detoured Anti-Sexting App can be found at www.detouredapp.com