Ronda Kaysen: As if teen sexting wasn't a big enough problem already, Microsoft added fuel to the fire by running a commercial that promotes teen sexting.
The ad for the company's new Kin cell phone shows a teenage boy at a raucous party texting a picture of his bare chest to a girl across the room. It's hardly X-rated stuff, but the ad does hawk the new phone as a device perfect for sharing naked pictures with friends. And, judging from the girl's giddy reaction to the picture, the message that's being sent to kids is that sending a risquÃ© picture of yourself is amusing -- and will definitely get the girl's attention.
Microsoft scuttled the scene from the ad after Consumer Reports raised hell, but the fact that the spot made it to air in the first place is surprising. Didn't anyone at Microsoft notice the endless headlines about sexting, and about kids facing felony porn charges for possessing pictures of their scantily clad classmates? Maybe now's not the best time to air an ad that makes the whole practice seem cool and hip.
The ad itself isn't over-the-top. After all, the girl remains fully clad, and the viewer never sees anyone's skin. Some bloggers are even saying that the criticism is absurd. "Once again, dudes. Guys don't have breasts and sending a picture of a guy's chest does not constitute sexting," said Steve Hall of AdRants.
But given all the recent attention around sexting -- and all the problems the trend is causing for teens -- advertising the behavior as something cool, sexy and totally appropriate for teenagers is just plain stupid.