The entertainment world was buzzing with the news that there had been leaked nude photos of sexy actress Scarlett Johansson. The beautiful Lost in Translation star isn’t the first (Hayley Williams, Vanessa Hudgens, Miley Cyrus, Chris Brown, Christina Aguilera and Nicki Minaj have all had leaked personal nude photos) and she probably won’t be the last to be caught in this frenzy.

This whirlwind got me thinking; if the stars are doing it, then surely the “average Joes” like you and I are doing it too?

Nudity has always been a touchy subject. In movies, they affect the rating of the movie, which affects its box office success, and determines whether you’re going to be watching the movie with your mom’s hand over your eyes. In a personal relationship, seeing a person’s unclothed body can change a relationship in an instant. Before the age of technology the only time you got to see another person’s naked body was face to face. Now-a-days all you need is a little bit of charm and a cellphone.

I used both of those to convince a local Durban girl, Jane (not her real name) to send me a sexual picture of herself within a few hours. Another friend of mine who we will call John, a 25-year-old civil servant from Durban, says that he has been sending nude photos of himself ever since he got a phone with a camera.

“I started originally sending photos as a joke to my friends. Just as sort of a surprise, you know bam! After a while I started using it as I show you mine and you show me yours. It’s really easy these days to do it, and you can even go on chat sites where people willingly give them to you.”

In the past sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, BBM and Mxit have become popular ways to send nude photos. Concerns about under-18’s sending each other sexual content in chat rooms of Mxit led the chat application to revise their system by making it much more parent-controlled. In a recent survey posted by The National Campaign in 2010, 20 percent of teenagers polled have sexted or sent nude and semi-nude photos of themselves, with 22 percent of teen girls and 18 percent of teen boys having done it.

Seventy-one percent of teen girls and 67 percent of teen guys who have sent or posted sexually suggestive content say they have sent or posted this content to a boyfriend or girlfriend. Twenty-one percent of teenage girls and 39 percent of teen boys say they have sent such content to someone they wanted to date or hook up with and 44 percent of both teen girls and teen boys say it is common for sexually suggestive text messages to get shared with people other than the intended recipient. Thirty-six percent of teen girls and 39 percent of teen boys say it is common for nude or semi-nude photos to get shared with people other than the intended recipient.

The scary part of the survey found that 51 percent of teen girls say pressure from a guy is a reason girls send sexy messages or images; only 18 percent of teen boys cited pressure from female counterparts as a reason. Forty percent of teenage girls said they sent sexually suggestive messages or images as “a joke”.

Source: IOL Lifestyle