It reads: ‘Swipe only if u…could send nudes.’Like Mark and Joseph, many boys do not bother to sugarcoat the reasons why they are here. In another conversation, I ask Jacob, who is pictured in uniform with his feet up on the desk, why he has asked me for naked pictures. One of my new correspondents tells me that he’s still in bed before getting up for school.Rory, 15 (but who looks 11), poses for his picture in his school blazer, white shirt and stripey tie.’ ‘T** pics’, he announces across the bottom of his profile. We only exchange messages for a few minutes when out of the blue he volunteers that he had been pleasuring himself.And it is not just sex that the teens on this site seem so flagrantly nonchalant about.Every single night, I saw videos of under-age boys ostentatiously smoking spliffs, blowing what appeared to be marijuana smoke into the camera or using bongs.Another shows a boy on a horse, about to take part in a fox hunt. Aged 13, I barely understood what those terms meant.
As the mother of a 14-year-old girl, taking her first steps into that terrifying no-man’s-land between adulthood and childhood, I spent two months monitoring the activities of youngsters on this site. Night after night, as I scrolled past thousands of fresh young faces — many still plump with baby fat and downy top lips — I found an unedifying meat market where children are reduced to little more than sexual objects, there to be scrutinised and objectified on demand. Is this what relationships will be like for children my daughter’s age?But the video, posted on Mark’s profile page on Yellow, the most popular new social network for teens, does more than capture a pretty wintry scene.The focus quickly moves to the foreground and onto a step where a message is written in the snow.Yet, at the same time, he is naked from the waist up as he gazes down at the camera.A message super-imposed across his chest makes the reason why he has joined obvious. ‘Bout the only thing this app is used for.’All conversation here is cursory and quickly directed by boys towards the sexual.