Apps Make it Easier for Tweens/Teens to Sext
Is there a parent out there today that doesn’t know what sexting is? I doubt it.
With the help of apps like Snapchat, Kik, Instagram and many other apps kids are sexting. One in five kids is sending a sexually explicit image of themselves to others, often their boyfriend or girlfriend. Nearly twice as many teens are receiving sexting images and a quarter of those that receive a sexting image are forwarding them to others. This research done by the University of Utah alarmingly also found that they did so even though they were aware of the legal consequences.
Some say that sexting is normal and is the new “first base” in dating for today’s digital generation. I personally think this opinion is utterly ridiculous! Just because it’s happening frequently in today’s digital culture doesn’t make it normal. Cyberbullying is occurring with stunning frequency as well in today’s wild-west online world. They are both challenging behaviors that are wrong. What ever happened to kissing as the first base in dating?
Many kids use apps like Snapchat, also known as the sexting app, because they are under the delusion that their photos will disappear within ten seconds and therefore they may think it’s a safer way to sext. Images posted using Snapchat or other alleged photo disappearing apps don’t really disappear and can easily be recovered. The receiver can also take a screen shot and then share it with others. That one image has the potential to go viral, from friend to friend, school to school and beyond. In addition, many images from Snapchat get posted to revenge porn sites, known as snap porn. There are many porn sites where images get posted, such as kiksexting.com.
Today, thousands of deleted photos, many believed to be underage nude pics are showing up online as a result of a Snapchat hack. The servers weren’t breached. The attack is being dubbed “Snappening.” Those using Snapchat were using third party apps to send and receive Snaps.
Nothing is ever private online. Just ask celebs Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton. They were both victims of the recent hacking scandal in which their private nude pics were posted for the world to see. One of the lesser known victims of this hack attack, Mary Winstead tweeted that “those photos had been deleted long ago.” This can happen to anyone, not just celebrities. Isn’t the most sensible approach not to take a nude image and post it in the first place? Even with safe guards in place, hacking can happen. Will the Snapchat hack and the iCloud celebrity hack be a wake up call for teens and anyone that shares pics online?
Why is Sexting a Problem?
Sending explicit sexual images constitutes child pornography and is a crime.
Your teen could be charged as happened in a recent case in Florida. “Florida police cite students for sexting in class” The laws do vary from state to state, so it’s important to find out what the laws are in your state.
Sexting can result in damage to a teen’s reputation, which may affect college admission or future employment.
Sexting can lead to cyberbullying or worse.
What Can Parents Do?
Talk to your kids about sexting, the legal consequences and other potential harm. Teens live so much in the moment that it’s hard for them to look beyond today to their futures. If you really hammer the risk home to them, they may at the least, stop and think before they hit the send button, “Is it really worth the risk?” Talk to them about your views on sexting. Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter what you say with some kids, they need to learn the hard way. But we need to try as parents to get through to our kids.
Teach your kids to think about the consequences of taking, sending or forwarding a sexual image of themselves or someone else that’s a minor. Besides the legal consequences they could get kicked off of their sports team, face excruciating embarrassment, lose educational or job opportunities in the future. Teens need to understand that forwarding an image makes them just as responsible as if they had taken it and sent it themselves. Why? Because it’s considered dissemination of child pornography if the image is that of a minor. The sender or the person in possession of a sexting image could possibly end up being charged, go to jail, being registered as a sex offender or doing community service.
Remind them to Never take images that they wouldn’t want everyone—friends, teachers, family – like Grandma, or employers to see, now or down the road.
Teach them that it’s a good idea to pause before hitting send and remember that they cannot control where the image may travel. There are no take backs once an image is posted online. What they send to a boyfriend or girlfriend in the heat of the moment could easily make its way to that “friend’s” circle of friends, friends of friends and so on. An image can travel at lightening speed to places one might never expect and be out there forever.