Staying Safe Online.
Sexting simply means exchanging images of a sexual nature. It’s a normal part of adolescence to explore relationships – the digital world just offers teenagers another way to investigate this part of growing up.
But young people are so comfortable with documenting their lives online, that they may not always think before they post. They might exchange sexual messages and images as a dare, or as a way of flirting, proving commitment, or even just as a joke. A recent study from the UK and Northern Ireland showed that 22% of teen girls admitted to sending nude or partially nude photo’s, and 15% have sent them to people they have never even met. Source
Often young people can feel pressured into sending images, and they don’t stop to consider the potential consequences. Images can be copied, altered, and made public in a matter of seconds, and the creator can soon lose control.
“”“It’s really important to raise the topic of sexting as part of a wider chat about relationships and sex. It might be embarrassing, but it’s definitely less embarrassing than dealing with private pictures all over the internet.” – Sean Lyons, Netsafe.
Netsafe’s Teen Talking Points.
- Remind them to always think before they post – and never to post anything under pressure from others or while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Ask them to be cautious about who they trust. Intimate pictures tend to be shared by couples in a relationship, but what happens if they break up?
- Explain that it’s illegal to take or share indecent images of under 18s.
- Encourage them not to pass on other people’s sexts, as they may be used to further hurt, harass or bully someone.
- Reassure them that they can come to you for help if they do make a mistake. The quicker mistakes are dealt with, the better the chance of minimising the spread of the images.
How to Deal With Sext Regret.
If your teenager has sent an image they regret, the first thing they should do is get in touch with the person they sent it to and ask them to delete it.
If it’s been posted to social media, they should use the site’s ‘report abuse’ feature to ask that the content be removed. Sites like Facebook and Instagram don’t allow nudity anyway. But on less regulated sites, they should report it as ‘indecent imagery of an underage minor’ to have a better chance of getting the content removed.
‘So You Got Naked Online’ is a resource that offers children, young people and parents advice and strategies to support the issues resulting from sexting incidents, download it here.
Read more about protecting your kids from looking at harmful content