Sexting in America: When Privates Go Public

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
Sexting in America: When Privates Go Public TV Poster Image
MTV special contains important info for teens/parents.

Parents say

age 18+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 3 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

The series clearly defines the act of sexting and characterizes it as a dangerous behavior that has very serious social and legal repercussions. It also warns kids about the peer pressure they may face to sext, and offers some ideas about how to handle this pressure. It also sends viewers the message to think before they act.

Positive Role Models & Representations

While most of the young people featured here do not openly support sexting, a few admit to sexting and/or cyberbullying and don’t appear too remorseful about it.


Victims of sexters describe being harassed, cyberbullied and subjected to other violent behavior as a result of their images being distributed via the Internet. It briefly discusses the suicide of two young women after a sexting incidents.


The series openly discusses sexting, but these discussions are in context and not salacious in nature. Sexted images are shown, but breasts and genitals are blurred out. One sexter is now a registered sex offender, and must go to sex offender classes. A scene from a film features a blurred image of someone in underwear.


Words like “whore”, “slut,” and “ho” are used within the context of describing specific events. The word “c--k” is bleeped.


Motorola phones, iPhones, and Blackberries visible. Publications like Seventeen Magazine and the book flirtexting are prominently featured. Brief visual references to Mac and AOL.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this MTV special looks at sexting -- the act of sending sexually suggestive photos by text message -- and at the emotional and legal consequences this behavior can have on those who engage in it. It also offers some limited advice on how to handle sexting situations. Not surprisingly, it contains some strong sexual references (including words like “slut,” “whore,” “ho;” the word “c- -k” is bleeped) and sext images (breasts and genitals are blurred). It also contains lots of references to celebrity sex scandals. All of these things are offered within context, and are intended to educate the viewer. IPods, Blackberries, and Motorola phones are visible, as well as the AOL logo. This is one you may want to watch with your teens, both to learn more about the phenomena and to talk about its implications. 

User Reviews

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Kid, 9 years old August 22, 2011
Teen, 16 years old Written byButterfly2010 March 30, 2010

What's the story?

SEXTING IN AMERICA: WHEN PRIVATES GO PUBLIC is an MTV News special dedicated to defining the term sexting, and highlighting the potential dangers people face when doing it. Hosted by former America’s Next Top Model contestant Kim Stolz, the program combines interviews with media experts, lawyers, and young people who have faced serious emotional and legal consequences as a result of requesting and/or sending sexually explicit images via computer and/or cell phone. It also shares statistics recently drawn from an MTV study on digital abuse, and offers some limited advice about what to do if faced with a sexting situation.

Is it any good?

The series offers some surprising and alarming information about the sexting phenomena, which has become a growing problem throughout the United States. It attempts to appeal to young viewers by featuring excerpts from music videos featuring singers like R. Kelly and Beyoncé, TV shows like Degrassi and 90210, and the film American Pie. Although it discusses sex scandals surrounding celebs like Pete Wentz and Rihanna, it still succeeds at discussing sexting without being salacious. It also underscores the idea that anyone, no matter how rich and/or famous, can be harmed by this behavior.

Because of the show’s 30-minute length, it only manages to scratch the surface of what has become a disturbing trend among young people today. But the information it does contain is worth listening to. Overall, it gives an informative, but serious warning to kids and their parents about the dangerous and devastating consequences sexting can have on their lives. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about sexting and the consequences of doing it. If you are ever sexted, or pressured to sext, what should you do? Where can people go for help for this sort of thing? Aside from the embarrassment and the legal implications, what other kinds of impact can sexting have on a person? Will it affect someone’s abiity to get into college or find a job? How? Parents: Check out our Common Sense advice about talking to your kids about about sexting and responsible text messaging.

TV details

  • Premiere date: February 14, 2010
  • Cast: Kim Stolz
  • Network: MTV
  • Genre: Educational
  • TV rating: NR
  • Available on: Streaming
  • Last updated: September 19, 2019

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