Sexting is sending sexual texts, pictures or videos through text messages, communication apps or social media. The message sent could be flirting in nature, a naked image, or sexually provocative. For example, texting someone for a one-night is not sexting. But sending nude images of your private parts is. This is similar to phone sex, but that only entails verbal communication.

Sexting is common among teens and young adults. The sender could be personally close to the recipient (boyfriend, girlfriend), may send such content to impress the receiver, or could be pressurized or blackmailed into the act.

Reasons Why People Sext

People who indulge in sexting believe the communication would stay confidential and remain between the two (sender and recipient). They see nothing wrong in sexting or don’t feel guilty because everyone else could be indulging in the act. Some see sexting as a way to express their sexuality or to show off, or to exhibit their interest in an individual or prove their commitment to a person. For some people who are not happy in their marriage, sexting is an exciting way to express and explore their sexual self.

Consequences

Sexting is fine and harmless till it stays private. But most don’t realize that any content that enters the digital realm would struggle to stay confidential. And if the message ends up in the hands of the wrong person, the sender may get exposed to several forms of exploitation and abuse such as blackmail, bullying, public humiliation, etc. Not to mention, the emotional effects a case of publicly revealed sexted content could have on the victim.

In several states in America, it’s a crime to send or receive nude pictures of a minor or underage person. In some countries, teenagers exchanging such explicit content could be charged with possession or transmission of child pornography.

Prevention

To prevent sexting from turning into a major issue, parents must be clean too. If parents are sexting themselves or not setting the right example, preventing or convincing kids from staying away from sexting could become difficult.

Parents should talk to their kids about sexting and its consequences before they fall victim to or indulge in sexting. Talking in detail about the digital world and sexting peer pressure should be helpful. Parents who are not comfortable with such intimate discussions can expose their kids to resources and information relating to sexting and its dangers.

Laws are in place to prevent sexting between teens or minors, and between an adult and minor. But the law cannot prevent an individual from sending an explicit image or text. Therefore, the recipient isn’t at fault for receiving the message. But the receiver violates the law if he/she keeps the picture. The rules, however, vary depending on the state or country.