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When you share nude or sexual images through your phone or online, it’s called sexting. You’ve heard of it, and maybe even done it.

someone sitting at a computerIt’s a way of expressing sexuality and getting to know someone sexually. A lot of people think it’s fun and it’s certainly popular these days.

Most of the time the images remain private, and are meant to stay that way. But sometimes, they can get into the wrong hands and end up being more public than you ever would have felt comfortable with.

So, here are a few things to consider before you snap and send.

When is it legal?

In Ireland, sexting is generally OK if it’s between two consenting adults.

If you’re not 18 years-old and you’re sending sexy texts (or if you’re receiving them from someone under 18 years-old), you could get in a lot of trouble.

Any naked or sexual images of people under 18 years-old are considered child pornography. There are some really serious legal consequences for people who distribute or possess child porn.

Don’t feel pressured into sexting

When you’re 18 years-old, you can sext all you want, but you shouldn’t ever feel like you’ve been forced to do it. It’s never OK for someone to pressure or guilt you into taking and sharing photos of yourself.

Don’t let anyone tell you that it’s not a condition of being in a relationship, and your partner should get to keep compromising photos of you on their phone. It’s always up to you.

Consent and sexting

As with sex itself, consent needs to be considered when sexting, by both the sender and the recipient.

When someone shares a sensitive photo of you without your consent, it’s a form of cyberbullying. It might be worth figuring out what you feel comfortable doing and what could cause trouble later on before diving in.

Once it’s taken, a photo or video can go anywhere. It can be messaged to other people or even posted online. If the photo, video or message doesn’t exist then there’s no chance of harm. It can’t be shared if it doesn’t exist.

If you’re thinking about sexting, make sure you’re prepared for what might happen if the content gets into the wrong hands.

What can happen?

If things go right, then you and your partner have a great time sexting each other. Just a little technology to helping the act of flirting along.

But, if things go wrong ( and this can be any number of ways ) your photo or message gets shared with more people than you wanted or expected, and can cause you great distress.

You might feel distressed, angry, humiliated, and like you just want to never face anyone you know again as your privacy has been breached.

Remember, it will blow over, but there’s no doubt about it, it’s never a nice situation to be in.

Have fun but stay safe

Sexting can be a fun way to flirt but be wary that once an image is out of your hands it can go anywhere.

Ask yourself these questions before you sext:

  • Are you comfortable with the risk that your photo could be shared with others?
  • Is this something both the sender and recipient consent to?
  • Are you feeling pressured to send nude or sexual image?

This article was last reviewed on 03 May 2017

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