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When flirting can start hurting your teen

Remember when you first sat your child down to have “the sex talk”? Pretty awkward wasn’t it? Your teen probably feels just as awkward dealing with feelings of attraction and peer pressure. And because their relationships live online through visually driven social networks, they may choose to exchange nude or partially nude photos (known as sexts) via Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook Messenger or Skype.

Why would my teen be sexting?

Sexting is very often between your teen and their partner as a sign of a safe, trusting relationship. However, your teen could decide to sext for other reasons such as:

  • Being confused under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • As a sign of demonstrating greater sexual confidence
  • Being encouraged to do it as a dare by friends
  • As a practical joke which they imagine is harmless
  • To use it to bully or blackmail a friend or mate at school

How do I talk to my teen about sexting?

Your teenager may not always think you’re cool, but they need to know you trust them and have their best interest at heart, always. So if you feel you need to have a chat with them about sexting, we recommend these talking points from Netsafe:

  • Remind them to always think before they post - never posting anything under pressure from others or while influenced by alcohol or drugs.
  • Ask them to be cautious about who they trust. Intimate pictures can be shared by couples in a relationship, but what happens if they break up?
  • Explain that it’s illegal to take or share indecent images of under 18s.
  • Encourage them not to pass on other people’s sexts, as they may be used to further hurt, harass or bully someone.
  • Reassure them that they can always come to you for help if they do make a mistake.
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