What are the dangers of sexting?

Technology has certainly taken the globe by storm. Gadgets such as cellphones and tablets have become easily accessible and quite affordable. You can purchase a phone which costs below R300.00 – and most of them use advanced software and can compete easily with other smartphones.

This means that most of them have the ability to download, install and are compatible with apps such as Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter [commonly used].

But, most importantly, as much as we are socialising on these platforms – we should refrain from sending each other sexually explicit messages or any obscene content.

According to Psychology Today, “It is a growing trend among today’s teenagers.  In fact, if you have a teen who has a device that can take a picture via cell, such as a gaming device, tablet, etc., then there is potential for sexting.”

That being said, let’s look at sexting:


What is sexting?

Sexting is sending, receiving, or forwarding sexually explicit messages, photographs or images, primarily between mobile phones. It may also include the use of a computer or any digital device.

Sexting is the act of sending a picture/photograph of yourself naked or semi-naked, using electronic means. It also involves sending flirtatious or sexual messages to others, often using acronyms and abbreviations.



NB: Extracted from SAPS

What are the dangers of sexting?

Sexting can have dangerous consequences. You should be aware that it is no longer a fun joke when the “sexted” images are shared among thousands of people, and it can ruin your future. Here are some of the dangerous consequences that you can suffer:

  • Loss of control: Once an image, message or video has been shared, the sender has lost all control of where or how it will be distributed or used.
  • Humiliation: The humiliation caused by having your explicit content circulated, can be devastating. In some tragic cases the level of despair and shame has led people to serious self-harm and even suicide.
  • “Sextortion”: A combination of the words “sex” and “extortion”. Extortionists and blackmailers have always leveraged their knowledge of other’s indiscretions, or their possession of compromising images and communications. There is no shortage of “sextortionists” hoping to leverage their victim’s sexual content for their own financial, or sexual, benefit.
  • Legal consequences: Sexually-explicit photographs, videos and communications, even when sent between minors under the age of 18, may be classified as child pornography, and the taker of the image, the recipient of the image and anyone who shares the content, may be charged and found guilty of crimes.
  • Social consequences: These can include humiliation, bullying and cyberbullying.
  • Physical consequences: Sexual content can increase the likelihood of becoming a victim of physical abuse. These images can end up on the Internet and in the hands of paedophiles.


What can I do to protect myself?

  • Never share, copy or download the sexually explicit image in any way.
  • If someone asks you to send a naked picture of yourself or to participate in sexting, ask them to stop or just do not reply at all. But if they are still bothering you or making you feel upset, block them.
  • If an adult has been making you do things you feel uncomfortable with, such as asking you to share pictures of yourself online or by text, tell an adult you can trust about it.



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Soweto Urban

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