Tech is integrated in almost every area of life
Make a plan to make sure your family is safe when using devices.
Why Sexting Isn't Smart
The Internet is forever
Messages and posts are things you can never take back. Many Internet sites keep records of everything posted, and may share that information with other people including the police and potential employers. And there’s nothing you can do to control copies that may have been downloaded or forwarded by other parties.
People forward messages
Nearly half of all teens who receive “sexts” forward them on to someone else, and 15% of teens say that they’ve had private chats made public. Messages or pictures you meant for just one person could end up anywhere and be seen by anyone.
People can get hurt
Sexting can literally ruin people’s lives. When sexual messages or pictures reach other people—including family members, schoolmates, coworkers, or potential bosses—they can lead to broken friendships, getting kicked out of school, losing a job, losing a scholarship, or worse.
All across the country, states are passing laws against posting or sending messages meant to hurt, insult, or spread nasty rumors about another person—including sexts. And posting or sending sexual pictures of anyone under the age of 17, even yourself, may be considered child pornography in the eyes of the law.
Tips for Staying Safe
Protect your identity
Your passwords are the only thing standing between you and a lot of potential trouble. Fourteen percent of teens say that they’ve had their online identities stolen by someone else. So even if you can’t imagine a friend using your account to do something nasty, keep your password private. And pick something other people can’t easily guess. Avoid obvious things like your birthday or your pet’s name.
Be careful about what you share online or in texts
Sexual predators are expert at poking around social networking sites like FaceBook to find new targets. Avoid posting detailed personal information like your full name, phone number, address, or school name, and don’t post details about where you are going or what you are doing.
Know who you’re “talking” to
There’s no way to be sure WHO you’re talking to on the Web. Passwords get stolen, friends “borrow” each other’s accounts, and people just plain lie. Six out of ten teens say they’ve chatted online with someone who was probably lying about who they were, and 7 out of 10 say they’ve gotten messages from people they didn’t know, including requests for personal information. Be smart and be safe. Never agree to an in-person meeting with someone you only know through the Internet. It can be dangerous and even deadly.
Think before you send
Think about the consequences before you send a sexy picture or sexual message. Think about some of the places the message could end up. How would you feel if everyone at school saw it? What would your friends and family think? Keep in mind that the message or image could end up anywhere, and that you won’t be able to take it back.
Be true to yourself
More than half of teen girls (and about one in five guys) say that they’ve felt pressured to sext a girlfriend of boyfriend. Keep in mind that no one has the right to force you to do anything sexual.
Learn More About Staying Safe Online
A Thin Line
MTV’s website for tips, advice, and stories from real teens about staying safe online: http://www.athinline.org/
National Center for Missing & Exploited Children’s website addressing how to be safe online. Lots of information, tips, handouts, and more for parents, teens, and kids: http://www.netsmartz.org/InternetSafety
Internet Crimes Against Children
a task force working to protect children from abuse and exploitation online: https://www.icactaskforce.org/Pages/InternetSafety.aspx
National Children’s Advocacy Center