What is sexting?

You may have heard lots about sending/trading nudes or rudes, pic for pic or sexting. We are going to use the phrase ‘sexting’ for the rest of this page but it includes all of the above.

They can be sent using mobiles, tablets, smartphones, laptops - any device that allows you to share media and messages. 

Sexting can include

  • naked pictures or 'nudes'
  • 'underwear shots'
  • sexual or 'dirty pics'
  • rude text messages or video

‘Sexts’ could be sent to a boyfriend or girlfriend, or someone else.

Why do young people do it?

Not all young people ‘sext’ but there are many reasons why they might which include;

  • joining in because they think that ‘everyone is doing it’
  • boosting their self-esteem
  • flirting with others and testing their sexual identity
  • exploring their sexual feelings
  • to get attention and connect with new people on social media
  • they may find it difficult to say no if somebody asks them for an explicit image, especially if the person asking is persistent

First of all you also need to be aware that it’s against the law for anyone under the age of 18 to take, share or possess a ‘sext’ of anyone under the age of 18 – even if it’s a selfie, we will cover this more later.

Some young people think that sexting is harmless, apart from it being illegal there are other risks associated with sexting including;

  • Once an image is sent the sender loses complete control over what happens to it.

When anyone send any image or texts it doesn’t just jump straight from a phone to the other phone it is being sent to. Images or videos can find its way to places they might not want it to or fall into hands that they didn’t mean it to.

  • It can leave young people vulnerable to being blackmailed. An offender might threaten to share the photo or video with the young person’s family and friends unless they pay money or do something else.
  • If the images are shared young people can experience bullying at school, online and other places
  • If images are shared online young people can experience unwanted attention from people, including sex offenders who search the internet for images such as these
  • Young people involved in incidents of sexting can become emotionally distressed. The embarrassment and humiliation can cause various feelings including self-harm and even suicide

Talk to your children about sexting.

Watch the below and discuss with younger children

Watch the below and discuss with older children

Document links

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