Let’s talk NUDES. Sexting or sending and receiving nudes isn't new. This type of behaviour has been around in one form or another for a long time, but in recent years the access to connected technology, new social networking platforms and peer pressure is seeing 'nudes' as becoming part of the ever day life of digital teens. Sending nudes can often lead to devastating outcomes so let's break it down.
According to an eSafety Commissioner survey, 9 out of 10 teens (14-17 years of age) thought that sexting happened among their peers and around 4 in 10 reported that it either happened often, or all the time. Of the teens surveyed nearly 1 in 3 young people aged 14-17 years in Australia had some experience with sexting. This included sending, being asked and asking, sharing or showing nude or nearly nude images or videos. The statistics indicate that if young people aren't being asked to send these explicit images then it is something that is certainly being spoken about within their peer groups. Additionally, the social pressures to send nudes can also intensify the ongoing battle with self-image and self-esteem.
In cases where the images have been seen by others (beyond the intended person) the consequences can be quite severe in terms of possible criminal prosecution, trouble with school authorities or serious social and psychological consequences including increased bullying, social isolation, shaming and severe anxiety, fear and depression.
Although the personal ramifications and social implications that come from sexting are regularly emphasized to young people, it is an imperative for them to be aware of the serious laws (which have recently changed) that can implicate minors that send, receive and possess explicit images of other minors.
Victorian Legal Aid make the legislation related to sexting and what is deemed child pornography very clear, “Sexting is a crime if you intentionally distribute an intimate image of a person under 18 to others, even if they agree to the sext message being sent. You could also be charged by police with child pornography offences.” Threatening to send an intimate image of a person to others, if the person believes that you will carry out the threat, may also be a criminal offence. While it can seem confronting, that fact that teenagers today are sharing these explicit images with one another means the term child pornography needs to be addressed. Victorian Legal Aid highlights that under Commonwealth law you could be charged with child pornography offences if you take, send, receive, make available, possess or store sexual or intimate photos of someone who is under 18 or who looks or represents someone under 18. Under these laws, there are serious consequences if you get caught.
To learn more please access the Legal Aid Website.
So with all this information what is our advice on this very real and sensitive topic. The reality around sexting and sending nudes is very real. As responsible adults we can’t shy away from this important conversation. Asking questions about how your children feel and what they know can help you to gauge your child's level of knowledge and keeps you informed to guide and educate them about the risks and dangers of this very difficult space.
Enforce boundaries. Responsible use of technology is learnt, not simply acquired. Young digital citizens need guidance and boundaries. Here are our non negotiables when it come to the use of technology in the home. You home digital device police should include the following (no exceptions):
Keep your eyes peeled. There are some cheeky and deceitful applications that can be downloaded to store photos in other 'secret' folders or vaults. Applications like Fake Calculator and Photo Vault store images off the users Camera Roll into these 'hidden' folders make them harder find and use cloud/server storage so the images can be removed from the phone with the hope that explicit images cant be found. Be sure to check all apps on your children's phones, even the icons that look like native apps like the Calculator, Weather or Notes apps - they could be a hidden/secret vault.
The Cyber Safety Project are committed to staying current in this constantly changing digital world. These blog and vlog posts provide insight to families about new trends, potential dangers online and effective strategies to maintain safe and respectful digital behaviours for parents, children, schools and the wider community.