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Understanding sexting and the risks
Here's some facts about sexting:
- Sexting is using the internet or a mobile phone for creating, sharing, sending or posting sexually explicit messages or images
- Sexting is becoming more common and sending, receiving or distributing a naked or semi-naked photo is the most common form of sexting
- Sexting is illegal when it involves anyone under 18 or to harass people of any age
- Young people can be charged and potentially registered as a sex offender if they create, receive or transmit a sexualised image or video of a person under 18
- If your child sends a sexy image, they have no control over where it might end up
- Victims of sexting may experience serious psychological harm and ongoing damage to their reputation
Why do young people sext
With increasing time spent on phones and technology, there are some risks. What could motivate your child to sext?
Increasing use of technology paired with normal teen risk taking behaviour and interest in sexual experimentation
Young peoples’ understanding of the consequences is low or they may think they’re the exception and nothing bad will happen to them
It's easier to let your guard down on the phone or internet than it might be in person
What is seen as acceptable today may have changed from previous generations
There are some warning signs that things might not be ok with your child
How to protect your child from the risks of sexting
Sexting can have serious social and legal consequences. You might be worried and unsure what you can do. There are ways to support them to stay safe.
- Tell them that sexting is illegal and images can be difficult to remove once posted
- Give them clear expectations about how they use their mobile phones
- Advise them to report ‘strange’ behaviour online just like they would offline
- Don’t minimise sexting as a “prank”
- Have open discussions about who they talk to online
- Talk through their experience or what they've heard about sexting
- Try not to use labels like “promiscuous” when talking about sexting
- It's important to remain calm and approachable and let them know you care
- Reassure them that talking about sexting doesn’t mean they have to give up their phone/device
There’s help available
If you’re struggling with a parenting issue like this one, know that you're not alone.
Check out the eSafety website for more information on how to support your child and how to report sexting. You can also call Parentline in your State or Territory for more support and guidance on any parenting issue.
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