It may feel awkward, but it’s important to explain to children the risks of sexting, how to stay safe and remind them that they can talk to you if something ever makes them feel scared or uncomfortable.
What is sexting?Around 1 in 7 young people have taken a semi-naked/naked picture of themselves. Over half went on to share the picture with someone else.
Sexting generally refers to the sending of sexually explicit images via text, email, MSN or through social networking sites. For example, this could be a picture of a boy or young man exposing himself or a young woman in a state of undress.
There could be many reasons why young people would want to take these sorts of pictures and send them to someone else. It could be that two young people who are in a relationship want to prove their love or commitment to each other; it could be that someone is looking to start a relationship with someone else or it could be that they simply want to show off.
Sexting may also be called:
BackgroundMost young people today are entirely comfortable with recording their entire lives online – much like other generations used to do in a diary.
These days though, this often includes uploading and sharing photos, status messages on what has been happening in their lives or how they are feeling, and texting back and for. While this ‘finger on the pulse, share all’ culture has some benefits, it can also create an environment in which teenagers and young people make impulsive decisions without thinking through the possible consequences. Often times, they are only a click away from doing something digitally that they would not normally do in the real world.
Why do Children & young people sext?
What are the risks of sexting?
Blackmail, bullying and harmYoung people may think sexting is harmless but it can leave them vulnerable to:
Advice on talking to your child about sextingIf you find your child surfing, texting, gaming or using social media obsessively, you have reasons to find out what’s going on in their lives. Also, if the child suddenly seems detached, aloof or irritated after spending time online, you need to know more. “Children facing abuse often try to hide who they are interacting with. Check if they have new phone numbers, social media friends or email addresses on their phone. These efforts may seem simple but can go a long way in saving precious lives.
From the time our children are babies we teach them right from wrong, how to keep themselves safe and how to recognise danger and when they are at risk. When it comes to the internet, it isn’t always easy to do this.
Children are using the internet and taking selfies at a younger and younger age, so it’s important to have a conversation with them about online safety. Although you might not allow them to have a smartphone or tablet, that doesn’t mean they can’t use a friend’s devices. It’s always better to teach older children how to use the internet safely rather than try to control their access to it.
Talking to your child about sexting
Communication is vital: try to talk openly about the consequences of sexting: what might happen and where they can get help for themselves or someone they know.
Here are a few ideas about how you can open up a conversation: