Sexting – the combination of the words sex and texting – involves the sending of sexually explicit messages, images and videos. It has become commonplace amongst young people and adults, and it can lead to distressing situations.
Netsafe does receive reports where someone has shared intimate images or videos with one person who has then shared them with others without consent. Often these instances have occurred when a relationship has broken down and one partner chooses to publish photos that were previously shared privately.
- Is sexting a bad idea? Once you sext you lose control of the content. Sharing naked or semi naked content, even in a trusted relationship, can prove problematic. Difficulties may arise if content is widely reposted or shared, as a joke, as a relationship ends, as friends become angry with each other or used to blackmail the sender into posting more explicit images. It’s important that people are aware of the risks involved with sharing intimate images or videos.
- What can I do if I’ve sent a sext? If you have sent an explicit image or video to someone and now regret it, you should contact that person and ask them to delete it.
- What can I do if I’ve shared a sext message on social media? If the sexual content was shared on social networking sites like Facebook or Instagram, then you should report it to the site as nudity is not allowed and they should remove the images.
- What can I do if my image has been shared at school? If sexual content has been shared around school, the school can provide support and investigate if other students are involved. If the images show a child under the age of 17, these can be classed as an objectionable image and someone distributing it may be investigated by New Zealand Police. You can also contact Netsafe for help.
- What can I do if I’ve sent someone a nude photo or video and now they’ve shared it with someone else, or are threatening to? This is called revenge porn and there is help and support available – find out more about revenge porn here.
- I’ve found naked photos on my child’s phone. What can I do? As a parent, you may be shocked to find this content on your child’s device. You can read our “So You Got Naked Online” guide for practical steps. It’s important not to overreact whatever your internal reaction may be – young people sometimes don’t think about long term consequences, they are living in the moment.
- How can I prevent my child from sexting? Young people will often learn about the concept of a ‘digital footprint’ at primary school – what you share, post or publish online becomes part of your digital record as it can be very hard to get information removed from online platforms and to clean up your personal profile.Talk to your kids about the risks of sharing personal information and sexual images and what can happen to those photos or videos once created and shared. Teach them how to use privacy settings to lock down social media accounts, restricting who can view your profile online and being cautious about sharing images is essential.
If you need help or advice with anything to do with sexting you can contact us. Our service is free, non-judgemental and totally confidential.
Call 0508 NETSAFE seven days a week, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
More advice and information
- Contact Netsafe if you’d like further help on 0508 NETSAFE
- Find out more about revenge porn and how Netsafe can assist
- Read “So You Got Naked Online” offers information, guidance and practical steps that you can take to deal with problems associated with sexting, revenge porn and other harmful publication of images and video.