Forget the fact that sexting is illegal in a lot of countries, or that it can lead to a lot of dangers like online grooming, sextortion and cyberbullying. Barring the fact that children/teens who sext are more likely to be involved in vices (like drugs and alcohol), frequent sexual intercourse and intentional pornography consumption.
As horrible as those are, research shows that sexting also has many even more harmful side effects on a child’s mind.
1. AGGRESSION, TRUANCY, DRUG USE
Bradshaw, O’Brennan, & Sawyer say students who are victims of sexting may be more prone to engage in school fights (Aggression) and other risky behaviours.
Sexting can also be very instrumental in promoting psychological issues like drug addiction, substance abuse, reduced self-esteem, depression and ultimately, suicide.
Sent images can end up on the web permanently as nothing ever really leaves the internet. These images can be used to cyberbully the child or teenager and make them disliked and a mockery among their peers. They are then humiliated. Causing problems in school (such as truancy, poor grades, etc.), within the family, and frequently results in depression.
One cannot quantify the psychological trauma Phillip Alpert (17 years old), went through. After sending images of his nude girlfriend to her friends and family following a fight, the state charged him with 72 different offences in court.
Pleading guilty, Philip Alpert now 20 is a registered sex offender. Because he legally is prohibited from being around schools, parks and public amenities, he is unable to complete his education, nor is he able to get a job.
3. DEPRESSION AND SUICIDE
Research by Russo, J.D., Ed.D., & Arndt tells us of two particular deaths that were as a direct result of sexting. ‘J’ had sent a nude photo of herself to her boyfriend who forwarded them to others until hundreds of people had seen it and began taunting her about it. She was so humiliated she decided to take her own life.
The same is the case for ‘H’ who killed herself three months after sending a picture of her bare breasts to the boy she liked who shared the image to others. She was suspended from school and taunted by her peers. When the harassment refused to stop, she took her own life!
I can personally relate to this. When I was younger, a friend of mine had a roommate who filmed her dancing naked. It was all jokes, and she thought her roommate deleted the video, but she didn’t.
Someone sent it to the entire student body, and it went viral! So much so that it trended on social media in the whole country. People kept putting the video back up when YouTube, Twitter and Facebook authorities took it down.
She was in shame and depression. Everyone had seen her naked. She withdrew from school and we never saw her again. No one knows if she permanently dropped out of school or committed suicide. Nothing!
Who knows how many more unreported cases there are?
Upon reviewing the real-life stories presented here, one can deduce that a lot of the victims are female, and teenagers often share a sext with others when received. That act alone will always have negative consequences.
A lot of teens and adolescents don’t realise that a single sext or nude image can spread like wildfire. Even in apps like Snapchat where the photos disappear after 10 seconds, what’s to stop the receiver from taking a screenshot or a picture of his screen with another device? What if the receiver decides not to delete or keep the images private?
4. THE FUTURE
Sexting can also go on to undesirably affect a person beyond their high school years. Future employers, potential relationships and even a person’s future children may come across those images eventually.
Adolescence is a developmental stage pronounced by risk‐taking and a narrow understanding of the dangers of those risky behaviours. It is imperative that we keep a closer watch on our children. And because sexting is a voluntary act, the only way to stop it is to educate our children on the dangers. Here’s how to talk to them about the dangers of sexting.