You may or may not have heard about ‘sexting’. It’s when someone shares nude or sexual images through their phone or online.
If you’ve heard of it, it’s probably been a media story about images being shared beyond the intended viewer. They are the cases where it has gone horribly, but sexting is something people are engaging in everyday.
With smartphone technology sexting has become a way of expressing sexuality and getting to know someone sexually. If you have a teenage son or daughter you need to talk to them about it.
We know that it’s not just for young people. There are also countless hacking stories in the media where people’s accounts or phones have been hacked and it’s clear that plenty of adults are sexting too.
Technology is new for all of us, and we’re all sharing the most intimate of items, no matter what age we are.
Access to smartphones have changed the way we communicate. Sexting is really just an extension of that.
For young people it can be a way to express commitment, maturity, to get attention or keep attention. This motivation isn’t unusual, it’s fairly normal teenage behaviour.
Be aware of that when you are talking to your son or daughter about it. Try not to judge, or make any judgements about the act when talking about it.
What is important to stress is that once any of us send an explicit image, it is not longer in our control and it could go anywhere and be seen by anyone.
Sometimes young people can feel pressurised into behaviour like sexting wanting to be liked and accepted.
Having open discussion about what is appropriate and what’s not can help. Like most behaviours it takes a lot of self-confidence to resist engaging in something just to be accepted.
Working on young people’s self-esteem can help them deal with pressure and working out what they are and are not comfortable with.