There’s also the app Zip It, which is targeted to young people.If a teen gets a text from someone asking for an explicit photo, the app suggests an alternative meme, like a photo of a trash can with the corresponding text, “here’s a picture of my junk.” Whether they solicit the help of such high tech aids, however, parents can discourage sexting by being more aware of what their pre-teens and teens are sharing and seeing on social media.
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That could make adolescents who may not be mature enough to understand the possible consequences of exchanging sexually explicit messages vulnerable to sexual predators, say the study authors.
“Although adolescents may be more digitally savvy than their parents, their lack of maturity and inattention to consequences can quickly lead to serious negative outcomes,” they write.
The students answered several yes/no questions that ranged from “In the last six months have you texted someone a sexual message to flirt with them?
” to whether or not they participated in a variety of sexual activities from kissing to intercourse and whether they had casual or serious romantic partners.
A new study published in the journal found that a significant number of adolescents between ages 12 and 14 sext, and that these children are more likely to kiss, have oral sex or sexual intercourse than their counterparts who did not send such explicit messages.
The study surveyed 420 seventh grade students from five urban public middle schools in Rhode Island.
In some cases they will use information which the young person has shared, for example personal problems or family difficulties, as leverage to get the young person to go on webcam or share a sexual image.
Once they have an image or video they will then use it to blackmail them, telling the child that if they don’t do what they say they will share the image or video online.
Children forced, tricked or persuaded to participate in the abuse, for example by performing sexual acts on themselves, may be left with long term trauma from the experience and can suffer just as much harm as those who are abused by an offender in the ‘real’ world.
The existence of images can make it hard to feel that the abuse has come to an end and young people may struggle, feeling that they were to blame even though their actions were directed by the offender.
In these cases the children involved never meet the offender face to face and all of the abuse takes place over webcam.