Does your teen know the risks of sexting? Sexting is child pornography, can lead to sexual bullying, puts teens at risk for blackmail and sexts never go away. Advice and recommendations for modern parents and sexting.
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To many teens, sending sexually explicit content is viewed as a normal way to interact with their peers. They do not see anything wrong with it, especially if they believe that “everyone is doing it.” Meanwhile, other teens engage in sexting because they see it as a joke or because they feel pressured to do so. In fact, research shows that as many as half of all teens engage in sexting prior to age 18. But many teens do not realize that sexting has serious consequences. Here are five major dangers of sexting. Be sure your teen is aware of the dangers.
Sexting constitutes child pornography
When nude pictures or partially nude pictures involve minors, this is considered child pornography in many states. While state laws vary about the rules and regulations of sexting, in some states exchanging nude photos of minors is considered a felony. What’s more, teens can be labeled sex offenders for sending or possessing photos of other teens. There have even been cases where teens were charged with a crime even if the photos are of them.
Sexting can lead to sexual bullying
Once a sext is sent into cyberspace, your teen loses all control over the image. People can use it in any way they want. And unfortunately, many people will use the images to sexually bully the person in the photo. This might include making assumptions about the teen’s willingness to engage in sexual activity or making assumptions about the teen’s reputation. Meanwhile, a cyberbully might share the photo online to embarrass and humiliate the teen in the photo. Or, a cyberbully might use the photo or photos to impersonate the teen the picture and post inappropriate comments and remarks.
Sexting puts teens at risk for blackmail
Sometimes when a teen sends a nude photo during an impulsive moment, they are later at risk for being blackmailed. There have been cases where the recipient of the image may threaten to share it publicly unless the sender complies with the blackmailer’s demands. Many teens who are subjected to these types of threats give in. They are often too embarrassed to ask anyone for help and may be at the mercy of the blackmailer for a long time.
Sexts never go away
Many teens mistakenly believe that a photo sent via text message or email will only be able to be viewed by the recipient. But these images are now out of the sender’s control and can be shared, copied and posted. Even if the image is shared using Snapchat puts a teen at risk. Although the images sent through Snapchat are designed to be deleted automatically in a matter of seconds, teens have learned how to copy images and save them before the app deletes them.
Sexting ruins a teen’s reputation
It is never a good idea for a teen to send sexually explicit messages to another person, no matter how serious the relationship. Aside for the legal risks and the cyberbullying risks, photos like these destroy reputations.
Aside from the fact that the love interest might brag about the photos and show them to others, there is an even greater risk to the teen’s reputation if the two break up. Some teens will share the photos or make them public as revenge. The end result is humiliation and embarrassment that could lead to bullying such as slut shaming and name-calling. What’s more, these images also can ruin a teen’s online reputation especially if college admissions staff, future employers or future romantic partners access the information years later.
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