Sexually explicit content has existed for hundreds of years so it follows that modern technology would be used to continue the practise. One click of a button and you can send sexually explicit photographs or messages via computer or mobile device.
Magazines are abound with enthusiasm and advice on sexting. Cosmopolitan under the heading “Sexting: Naughty Text Ideas To Try Today” says “The best sexts are like great foreplay—they’re spicy but still leave a little to the imagination.” It then goes on “Find out how to max out your sext appeal.” They also provide “4 Tricks for Your Steamiest Sexts Yet”. Sexting has been described as “the act of exchanging sexually titillating electronic messages with the opposite gender, usually with the person you fancy.” Crouched in these terms sexting appears unquestioningly acceptable and is clearly encouraged. Sexting is not so warm and cuddly. In the digital age of instant communication where words and images can go viral, Sexting may actually be harmful, particularly for young girls.
Sexting is defined as ‘Someone taking an indecent image of themselves and texting it to someone else.’ A survey found that 38% of young people aged between 11 to 18 had received an “offensive or distressing” sexual image by text or email. This is not promiscuous youth but rather young people succumbing to the pressure of media and their peers. It is real problem for young people as sexting can result in personal humiliation, shame, personal and cyber bullying and ultimately suicide. To help young people through the maze of relationships the youth-led project oiimysize.com raises awareness about how boys talk to girls and what is appropriate. Sexting is illegal for young people.
There are dangers in sexting for young people and adults alike. The best relationships can go wrong and sometime images end up in the wrong place. Content sent using an internet connection creates a permanent digital footprint that can never be erased. Once sent, the sender has no control over the use of the image or text. Made public by accident or on purpose sexting may impact on a career path, expose the sender to all forms of physical abuse, kidnapping, extortion, revenge porn as well as taking a toll on emotional health.
There is some protection for sexting through apps like Snapchat which destroys the images after a few seconds and Coverme which additionally allows messages to be recalled but they do not protect the sender’s image from screenshots. Sexters have the option to take a generic photograph which does not have any identifying body marks or backgrounds and has all the digital information removed from an image but it’s a bit long.com. There is also a professional guide for sexting (Flirtexting). Or you might just remember that naked selfies in the mirror are rarely if ever flattering. Laugh out loud and press delete.
Childline provides help and support on a sexting dilemmas free at anytime 0800 1111