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What is “sexting”?

Sexting is becoming a big issue for teenagers

Sexting is becoming a big issue for teenagers

With the advent of smart phones, teenagers are spending more and more time online, from chatting to their friends to sharing photos. One issue that is emerging from this new culture is “sexting”. When teenagers take and send sexually revealing pictures of themselves or send sexually explicit messages to a partner or potential partner via text message, it’s called “sexting.”

The major concern is that once that image or message has been sent, the sender has no control at all over it and there is nothing stopping the receiver from making it public! There have been some high profile cases of sexting. In July 2008, a teenager in America committed suicide after a nude photo she’d sent to a boyfriend was circulated widely around her high school, resulting in harassment from her classmates.

If you’re a parent of a teenager, what can you do?

  1. Talk to your teenager about the consequences of sexting, don’t wait for an incident.
  2. Remind your teenager that once a message or image is sent, they lose complete control over it.
  3. Explain to your son or daughter that no matter how strong the peer pressure is to get involved in sexting, it’s nothing compared to the damage that would be done to their reputation if and when those images or messages get out.
  4. Educate your child on what to do if they themselves receive a message or image of this nature. They must know that they should delete it and under NO circumstances should they send it on. There may be serious legal implications in the future regarding distribution of pornography!
Debbie Woodward

Debbie is a FETAC qualified trainer and delivers Social Media training for the Sligo County Enterprise Board in Ireland. Debbie also delivers talks on Internet Safety to parents and students in schools and also teachers in education centres. You can find Debbie on Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.

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