The Dangers of Sexting
What Is Sexting?
Sexting, or sex texting, is sending sexually explicit images, photos, or messages via a phone app or on the internet. A 2021 study found that 19.3% of young people have sent a sext, and 34.8% have received one.
The dangers of sexting are both real and serious, so as awkward as the conversation may seem, it’s essential to have it (your teenager may even be mildly impressed that you know what sexting is). Here are some things you should make sure your child or teen is aware of:
Dangers to personal privacy. A young person may trust their sext recipient, but that doesn’t guarantee their privacy. That person may lose their phone or have it stolen, hacked, or handled by a third party who may publicize the sexts. Alternatively, the recipient may deliberately show it to others or post it online, in which case countless people may view it—and continue to share it via screenshot and reposts—forever.
Sexts can ruin reputations for years. Depending on how they are shared (which is ultimately never fully in the sender’s control), sexts can be found online by people for years to come. In talking to your child or teen, explain that potential employers and future romantic partners could encounter their sexts at any point in their lives. This could ruin job opportunities and relationships when they are adults.
Legal risks. Even for minors who are sexting consensually, there can be surprisingly damaging legal risks involved. Sending and sharing or distributing sexts can be considered child pornography, and depending on your state laws, your child or teen could be charged with a felony.
Teach Kids Responsible Tech Use With Net Positive
The mission of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Utah County is to inspire and enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to realize their full potential as productive, caring, and responsible citizens and leaders. We accomplish this by providing evidence-based programs with a focus on those that improve academic engagement, build character, and that improve healthy behaviors.
Our Net Positive Program educates K-12 students about digital safety, health, citizenship, and leadership. After participating in our program, students are 97% better prepared to face internet dangers. Contact us to learn more and ask your school to schedule a Net Positive Presentation, or support us with your donation today!
“How to Talk to Your Kids about Sexting.” Child Mind Institute, 3 Sept. 2021, https://childmind.org/article/talk-kids-sexting/.
“Sexting: How to Talk with Kids about the Risks.” HealthyChildren.org, https://www.healthychildren.org/English/family-life/Media/Pages/The-New-Problem-of-Sexting.aspx.
“Sexting: What Parents Need to Know (for Parents) - Nemours Kidshealth.” Edited by Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, KidsHealth, The Nemours Foundation, Apr. 2018, https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/2011-sexting.html.
“Talking about ‘Sexting.’” Common Sense Media, https://www.commonsensemedia.org/articles/talking-about-sexting.