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The Fathering Project – Implications of Sexting
Dad-Proof Tips: Starting the Conversation – The Implications of Sexting

Information about sexting

Technology has changed the world significantly over the last few decades, with countless benefits associated with its development. However, these benefits do not come without risks. The rise of sexting has come quickly and largely without warning.

What is it?

Sexting is sending sexually explicit photographs, messages, and video by phone or online devices. Some young people say they felt pressure to sext, despite most saying it was wrong. Most said they thought it was unacceptable for someone to ask for a naked photo. If you are in a relationship and thinking about sexting it is important that you consider potentially negative consequences:

  • Damage to your reputation
  • Damage to your relationships
  • Damage to your self-esteem
  • Sexually explicit photographs being spread to other people
  • Problems getting a job

Key background points for fathers:

  • 35% of employers have not hired a job candidate because of content they found of them online.
  • Remember – the minute you send that picture, it belongs to the person on the other end of the phone, or computer. They can do anything they want with it, including sending it to everyone they know.
  • 88% of sexually explicit images & videos uploaded by a person themselves are uploaded onto other sites.
  • Did you know: In Australia, the law bans sexting for anyone under 18 years?
  • When sexting involves someone under 18, it is ‘child pornography’, an ‘indecent act’ or an ‘indecent recording’ according to the law.
  • The maximum penalties for child pornography can be up to 15 years in jail and being placed on the sex offender register.
  • You can be charged with possessing or sharing sexual / nude images even if the image is of yourself.

Starting the conversation

The taking and sharing of sexually suggestive, and often nude images online has become a significant risk associated with social media use amongst our teens. Starting the conversations with our kids around the risks associated with sending ‘nudes’ is important in setting out expectations of their online behaviour. They may, at some stage, feel as though they are being pressured in to sexting behaviour, so it is important to ensure that they are comfortable in saying no and understand what makes a healthy relationship.

Base your conversations on the concept of healthy relationships. This allows you to talk about any topic with a positive approach.  Young people need to understand what it means to be respected and respectful in the context of friendship, dating or a sexual relationship.

Tips for the conversation

  • Select your times and places. Prevent discomfort by talking when you are in a more private setting, like in a car driving somewhere, going for a walk together. Being in an environment where you can talk without being interrupted can also make things more comfortable for both of you.
  • Talk about healthy and unhealthy relationships. Discuss together what a healthy friendship or relationship should look like. Caring, respect, honesty, consent, equality, fun. Discuss what an unhealthy relationship might look like. Controlling, uncaring, no respect, dishonesty, pressure, etc
  • Talk about the risks of sexting. Discuss the things that could happen if the pictures or content got into the wrong hands or were shared by someone you trusted. Talk about the laws around sexting and sexually explicit images & videos (see notes above).
  • Use media opportunities to discuss relationships and sex. Follow up relevant TV Shows or movies with discussions. Ask for their opinions on social media and sexuality, relationships and sexting using examples from social media sites. (‘Have you or anyone you know ever been sent a nude? How did you/they feel?)
  • Communicate openly. When adolescents have dads, who will talk to them openly and honestly about sex, relationships and shared values, they are shown to engage in less negative risk-taking behaviour.