What is sexting?

Boy looking down at phone

Sexting is the act of exchanging messages, images or videos of a sexual nature through digital communications platforms such as text message, social media or mobile apps. It refers explicitly to self-generated content. 

Why do young people sext? 

Young people may engage in sexting for a number of reasons, most commonly because they:

  • think it is normal, as "everyone else is doing it";
  • are in a relationship with the receiver;
  • are asked by another to do so, and feel pressurised to please;
  • think it is a private exchange between them and the receiver;
  • are trying to impress or be perceived as desirable;
  • are blackmailed or harassed into it. 

What are the consequences?

Sexting is rarely a private, harmless act. Once it has been sent, the sender no longer has any control of where it ends up. If a message is shared, it opens young people up to many forms of abuse or exploitation such as bullying, blackmail and/or public humuliation. In certain cases, legal action may even be taken. 

Related articles 

For parents

Reporting cyber bullying
What does my child do online?
Protecting your child online

For young people

The consequences of sexting
I have received a sext
My sext has gone viral

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