As children grow and develop, they become more interested in relationships and sex. One way they do this is through sexting. Sexting is the sharing and receiving of sexually explicit messages and nude or partially nude images via cell phone. Sexts may be sent as regular text messages through apps, like Snapchat, and WhatsApp or through online games. Teens may sext for a variety of reasons. They may be trying to establish intimacy with a boyfriend or girlfriend, impress a crush, or be funny. Others may feel pressured into sexting by online or offline boyfriends or girlfriends who may threaten to break up with them if they don’t send a picture.
Teens may not believe or be able to foresee a situation in which the person they send a sext to chooses to share that image with others. However, it does happen and the consequences can be academically, socially, and emotionally devastating.
Teens who sext may be at risk for things like sextortion, getting in trouble at school, being bullied or harassed, or, in extreme cases, getting in legal trouble.