Today's teens are always connected, living out our lives online and in the public eye. We share photos on Instagram, live tweet at concerts, and message our friends instead of calling. But sometimes teens do not make wise choices about what they are posting, sharing or texting.
What is Sexting?
Sexting is sending, receiving, or forwarding sexual photos or sexually suggestive messages through text message or email. While the term "Sext" has been around since about 2005, the idea of exchanging or recording sexual material isn't a new concept.
Sexting has some serious consequences not only for the person taking and sending the photos but also for the person on the receiving end. As a result, it is important to talk with your kids about these consequences. Not only should teens be made aware of the emotional consequences of sexting, but they need to know about the legal ramifications as well.
Many times, kids participate in sexting without thinking about the consequences. But in one impulsive move, they can alter their lives from that point forward. Here are some of the ways kids who sext suffer emotionally.
Experience embarrassment and humiliation - When a sexual or nude photo is sent to another person, there are no guarantees that this picture will remain private. And in many cases the pictures rarely do. Once a relationship breaks up, or a friend becomes angry, the pictures are often mass distributed as an act of revenge. As a result, the person in the photo is often embarrassed and humiliated when it is distributed. Many kids report feeling like they have walked down the halls of their school without any clothes after a photo is a mass distributed.
Experience bullying - Once sext messages become public, this often opens teens up to bullying, especially cyberbullying. There are countless stories of young women who have participated in sexting and later have been bullied for it.
Experience the end of friendships - Peer pressure is a powerful force, friends often distance themselves from the person being targeted for fear they also will be bullied.
Experience guilt and shame - Having personal and private images shared with a mass audience can cause immense guilt and shame. As a result, teems who participate in sexting often regret having done so. It also impacts self-esteem leaving them feeling vulnerable and exposed.
Experience feelings of hopelessness - As bullying, ridicule, and embarrassment escalate around the sexting, teens can start to feel hopeless and become depressed. They also may contemplate suicide.
We often don’t realize that sexting a boyfriend or girlfriend is not a harmless act. Instead, we can face serious legal ramifications.
Risk receiving criminal charges for child pornography - Both kids who send the photos and kids who receive the photos can be charged. Those who send the photos may be charged with distributing child pornography. And those who receive the photos may be charged with receiving child pornography, even if they did not request the photo.
Risk having to register as a sex offender - Aside from possible jail time and probation if convicted of charges related to child pornography, teens that sext also runs the risk of having to register as a sex offender. This label is extremely burdensome for young people because of the stigmas attached and the reporting that is required.
So make smart decisions and remember once it is on the internet it can never be erased.