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Birmingham acting school explores the impact of sexting on young people

Birmingham School of Acting (BSA), part of Birmingham City University, is addressing the impact of sexting and pornography on young people and their relationships in a new theatre production.

Devised and performed by 2nd Year Applied Performance students at BSA, The Sext Generation is an interdisciplinary performance which uses a fusion of song, dance and spoken word to tell the story of Sophie and Josh, a teenage couple who face the consequences of sexting. Pressurised by friends, Josh asks Sophie for an inappropriate image of her – the play goes on to explore how their relationship with each other and their peers is impacted as a result.

Sophie and Josh are almost ‘Facebook official’ and then he asks her for a picture…

Sexting is an increasingly common activity among young people, where they share sexually explicit texts, images or videos on their mobile phones – usually in a text message. Worryingly, young people often do not see sexting as a problem and are reluctant to talk to adults about it because they are afraid of being judged or having their phones taken away. However, there were over 1,200 ChildLine counselling sessions that mentioned ‘sexting’ in 2014/15.

While devising The Sext Generation, the performers themselves spent time researching the issues of sexting among the 13-18 year old age group the play is aimed at. They found – through focus groups with teenagers – that sexting is affecting children as young as 11 years old.

Hannah Phillips, Course Director of Applied Performance at BSA and Director of The Sext Generation said:

“The Sext Generation is being performed during the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign and we are hoping to highlight our concerns around issues of ‘sexting’ and sending ‘naked selfies’ as a current form of exploitation of young women.

In this fusion of drama, song, dance and spoken word we also explore the accessibility of pornography for young people through digital technology and the impact this has on them and their relationships. We don’t have all the answers to these complex issues but we certainly hope to raise some important questions.”

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