Cyber Safety Advice for Parents Blog

Two out of every three Post Primary students, asked to send, or have received Sexualised Images – Advice for Parents

  • 78
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    78
    Shares

 

sexting image

 

Students at Coláiste Bríde in Clondalkin, Co. Dublin, recently discovered in a study, that two out of every three people in the school, had received a sexualized image, or had been asked for one. The results led students to launch their own Sexting awareness campaign. Sexting is an obvious source of concern for the parents of young teens. It can also be a big problem for teens themselves. Imagine how difficult it must be, to exist in an online environment, where all of your own friends, followers and peers are exchanging sexualized images.

To make matters worse, celebrities such as Kim Kardashian, who have millions of young followers, post highly sexualized images and at times completely naked images of herself. We are not body shaming or slut shaming, by taking the stance to say that we disapprove of her actions. She is an adult, what she chooses to do is her own business. But it becomes a real world issue for parents, when young impressionable children see these images, and are then influenced to mimic the images themselves.

In an online world with no rules, Sexting can be viewed as a very socially acceptable online behaviour. As a result, this puts enormous pressure on teens, to exchange sexualized images of themselves with others.

“Sexting”, this is the sharing of sexualized images or video, from one digital device to another. It is not a new phenomenon. In schools across the country, we have witnessed a steady rise in the number of Post Primary students, reporting that they have been asked to share of a sexualized image or video. Many receive unsolicited content never ask for, from people they know, and people they don’t.

Unfortunately, this Genie is out of the bottle and it has no interest in returning any time soon. Most students are aware Sexting happens, but many will often struggle with how to deal with being asked for images, Even how to address Sexting with their parents.

All young people need tools to protect themselves from this risky online behaviour. This helps to empower a young person, who may be put under a lot of pressure to share, a sexualized image of themselves, to have the confidence to say ‘NO’. It is really important for parents to explain what Sexting is, what it involves, the dangers, the legal consequences, but most importantly the ramifications, if images are circulated online. The circulation of such an intimate image can cause real harm to a teen’s mental health and self-esteem.

Have a conversation about Sexting at home. Ask your teens, if the results found by students in this school, would be similar to your teen’s experience in their own school. It’s all about bringing the darker elements of the online world in to the light. From our experience, much of the harm online, relies on the silence of a victim or those being targeted.

Discuss what they would think at that moment, just before they press send, This is the point when their life will be split in two. A before and an after. Whichever path they decide to follow, it will be for the rest of their lives. They need to know the risk that they are about to take, is something they will have to live with forever, regardless of the consequences.

Discuss with your teen or younger device users, why they need to ask themselves the following questions, before sending an image, which can never be taken back

  • Do I know who this person is?

  • Is this profile even real?

  • Why is this person asking for an image?

  • What do they need this image for?

  • What do they intend on doing with the image?

  • Why am I sending this image?

  • Am I being pressurised to sending the image?

  • What risk am I taking, if I do send the image?

  • How would I feel, knowing I have no control over this image, once I send it?

  • How would I feel, knowing that this image will remain out there forever?

  • How would I feel, if this image was shared with others?

  • How would I feel, if everyone I know, see this image?

  • Could I be asked to share more explicit images, after sharing this one?

  • What if this person, threatens to share the image on with others, if I don’t send more images?

  • How would I feel, if this image was to be used by more than one person to threaten or control me?

  • Is there any real reward for me, given the enormous risk that I am about to take?

  • Would somebody who really cared about me, ask me to do this?

It can be difficult to think critically. Split decisions can be made based on the emotion or excitement, experienced at that time. Knowing the right questions to ask yourself, taking that moment before forwarding an image or video on, just might be enough to prevent the from sending an intimate on.

Team @COTDAge

 

 

Please tell us your Thoughts, Comments or Experiences on the Blog

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.