With the relatively new ability to send images and videos through technology, people of all ages are taking advantage of this ability to connect to others. Unfortunately, it has also led to the evolution of “sexting.” While this is legal for adults (but still risky), it is not for minors and can have serious consequences on a minor’s emotional state, not to mention their professional and academic future.
Depending on the minor, the situation in which the sexting occurs, and how it is handled, the ramifications can vary greatly. However, it almost always leads to some negative effects for the teen.
What It Can Lead to
While parents may be aware of certain repercussions of sexting, there are a wide variety of consequences that even the most conscientious parents may not be aware of. Regrettably, it can lead to the following negative effects:
- Low self-esteem – not only can the response of other parties to the sexting lead a teen to develop low self-esteem, but it can also cause a teen to value their body and self less, which often leads to decreased self-esteem.
- Suicidal thoughts or actions – unfortunately, other parties that receive the “sexts” may put them to negative and detrimental use, causing the teen who sexted to suffer serious emotional harm. As a result, many teens have been found to suffer from depression, which can be severe enough to lead to suicidal thoughts or actions.
- Engaging in sexual acts – sexting can cause a teen to devalue the importance of sex and other physical acts. As a result, they may more easily engage in sexual acts that they later regret.
- Felony charges – some states view sexting as “child pornography” and are charging teens with production, distribution and/or possession of child pornography, all of which can have serious penalties and repercussions
- Inappropriate relationships – it has been shown as a “gateway” to beginning relationships, particularly those that a person would otherwise not enter into. For example, it can lead a teen to get in a relationship with a much older person, someone whom they are uncomfortable with, or even an authority figure, such as a teacher.
- Bullying – images that are sexted can all-too-easily find their way into the hands of parties other than the ones intended to receive them. As a result, teens who sext may be subjected to intense bullying by their peers.
Fortunately for parents and minors alike, there are many ways to combat these effects of sexting. However, due to the ramifications and negative effects that it can have, it is important for parents to address it before it becomes an issue.
Understanding Why Teens Sext
Not only has the availability of and advances in technology led to an increase in sexting, but there are also a variety of other reasons that compel teens to engage in this activity. Generally, teens engage in it for one of the following reasons:
- To “show off” for their peers. This is particularly a factor for boys who want to assert their masculinity and seem cool in front of their friends.
- To prove that they are committed to a relationship. It is a way other than committing actual sexual acts that teens view as a way to show they are committed to their significant other.
- To get revenge / embarrass someone. After breakups or to hurt those they don’t like, many teens will send sexts to their peers of another person.
Although sexting can lead to several problems and consequences for teens, parents can understand why it is done and take action to prevent it or nip it in the bud.
For more information about sexting prevention, download our eBook "Understanding Sexting: Nine Things Every Parent Should Know."