Sexting is the act of sending sexually explicit messages, photographs, or videos, primarily between mobile phones. While it’s usually intended just for a boyfriend or girlfriend to see, the images often wind up being shared. It can come back to haunt you!
Legal trouble: If these photos get shared, you could be charged with producing or distributing child pornography. If you keep them on your phone or computer you could be charged with possession (even deleted images, which can be recovered). Once you’re an adult, if these old images are found in your possession, you may also be charged with a felony for child pornography and may be required to become a registered sex offender, even if you were a minor at the time the photos were taken/received.
It can spread like a bad virus: Your friend or boyfriend/girlfriend may distribute these photos to others. Even if he/she hasn’t done so yet, it could happen after you break up or if you have a bad fight. He/she could use them as blackmail. Or, a friend of your boyfriend/girlfriend could find the photos on their phone, and send them without him/her even knowing it!
BEWARE! There are many cases in which these photos have ended up in the wrong hands, and are sold to pornography websites around the world! Don’t become a victim!
Your reputation is on the line: Not only can the photos be sent around Facebook or your school, they can be distributed and archived online for people to search for. Things that end up online are usually there forever! So, an innocent “just playing around” moment may lead to people questioning your integrity. Do you really want your teachers, family, future college admissions council or employer to come across these images?
The bottom line: Have fun with texting and email, but don’t send anything you wouldn’t want a lot of other people to see. Discourage others from sending you sexual images as well, and immediately delete any images you do come across, in order to protect yourself from possession of these images. Remember that friendships and relationships can end, and sometimes people do hurtful things. Critical thinking about what we upload as well as download is the best protection.