My New Digital Camera: Sexting in Middle Age?

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After taking thousands of pictures around the globe with my trusty Pentax, I bought a digital camera last week.

If you already have one, this may sound pretty ho-hum. But to someone who spends hundreds of dollars on film every time he leaves the country, and who still thinks a “photo” is a picture of something as it actually was, a digital camera is a little miracle.

My wife and I spent a few hours learning how to use it yesterday. Sitting in the living room we took turns learning to use things like the “multi selector” and “shooting mode.” Soon we were practicing, taking pictures of everything in the room. Then we were zooming, cropping, light-compensating. We used the ‘record’ feature that lets you dictate “14th century late Gothic” when you take a picture you might later mistake for 15th century early Renaissance.

And then I realized: I could say “honey, lift your shirt” and take a picture. She could take a glorious shot of my bike-ridin’ butt—without shorts. We looked at each other with the same thought—theoretically, we could take pics of ourselves being sexual.

Since we’re not mad with hormones, and our friends don’t talk much about photographing their bedroom antics, and seeing each other nude isn’t exactly novel anymore, it had taken us a full 90 minutes to come up with the idea of using our digital camera in erotic ways.

And it hit me—that’s probably 89 minutes longer than it takes your average 16-year-old.

As we contemplated using the camera to post photos on our blogs, email photos to friends, and keep precious digital memories, I was reminded of the words I’ve been saying professionally about this for years.

The most important: Americans put the world’s most powerful communication tools into the hands of children, and expect children to use them thoughtfully, safely, wisely. Then parents are outraged when kids do with digital technology what they also do with magic markers, French fries, and rollerblades: use them carelessly, selfishly, casually, and stupidly. You expect your kid to be more thoughtful with her cellphone than with her sweater?

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