There has been a rise in people using video-streaming apps and sites to sell their nudes or sexually suggestive content. With concerns raised about how social media and tech play a role in teens sharing images, our Internet Matters expert panel provides their advice on teens and sexting, sending, and sharing nudes.
Having an open dialogue is important. Try to understand why they want to share or sell nudes and explain to them about the potential consequences. It might seem like a quick and easy way to make some money but once the image is shared they lose control and it can be very difficult to remove the content.
Once the images are online they stay online and there are many stories in the media which highlight the potential problems. Try to de-personalise the conversation so it isn’t specifically about them – use stories in the media as a starting point. Ultimately this is against the law and young people need to realise that these sites are viewed as porn sites – do they really want to be associated with that? What do their friends think about it?
Do they want you to know or did you discover this for yourself? Talking to your teenager is the first and most important thing to do – but don’t overreact. Are they being coerced into doing this or are they doing it willingly?
Understanding their motivations is important. If they are being blackmailed to share images then you should contact the police immediately. If they are sharing content because they want to then try to talk to them about the potential consequences. This can be difficult as the teenage brain isn’t programmed to think about risk and consequence. The bottom line is that it is illegal and there can be serious criminal consequences, images can come back to haunt them and ultimately they are being exploited by those paying for the images (who may be unaware that they are under 18).
You may be worried about talking to your child about this but remember they might be embarrassed too. Choose somewhere private where you won’t be overheard or interrupted and pick your timing so you won’t be rushing or get distracted.
You might want to start by talking generally about their internet and social media use before asking specific questions. Ask how it works, what they do online and how they interact with others. Be open to what they tell you. Explain how sharing indecent images can be dangerous and that you don’t want them to get hurt.
Ask whether they have any worries and let them know that they can always talk to you about this and they will not be in trouble, you just want to be able to help them. Your child may not tell you anything straight away but they may come back to talk to you about it later on.
See more articles and resources to help children stay safe online.