Sexting has been defined as “the creating, sharing, and forwarding of sexually suggestive nude, or nearly nude images” (Lenhart, 2009). In simple terms, taking a sexually explicit photograph and texting (sharing) it via your mobile phone to others.
This sexually explicit content can easily be distributed between people, through the use of smartphones, the Internet, and through online social networking sites. Recent studies claim that up to 39% of teens and 59% of young adults have sexted at least once.
Whilst adults risk embarrassment if a photo they have sent to another adult is posted or shared with a wider audience the implications for children are much greater. Children and young people need to understand the dangers that sexting can pose. Once an image has been sent it is out of their control and may be shared on and offline with other people. They will have no control over who sees it and what they choose to do with it.
In the UK a child is a person under the age of 18. Sexting can lead to a range of problems for a child; cyberbullying; grooming and an enhanced level stranger danger. It can lead to serious mental health issues caused by the fear of what might happen leading to depression and a desperation that drives young people to self harm or to contemplate suicide.