It is serious fun to connect with others on those social networking sites, but before you upload that picture, or hit that send button, here are some important things you need to know.
What is sexting?
Sexting is using cell phones to send or receive “sexy” text messages or images. But what is considered “sexy”? It’s not saying “I love you” to someone. An easy explanation is anything that involves a person’s private areas. It could be a picture that shows a private area of yours or another person’s. It may be writing about what you want to do to a friend’s private area, or may want them to do to you.
This may all seem very private between just you and another, but there are some serious risks with sexting, uploading sexy pictures, and writing sexy posts online, or in an e-mail. In many states it’s illegal to send, or receive, nude, or semi-nude pictures of minors-even if you are the one sending a picture of yourself. It’s called child pornography. It’s so serious that teens have been convicted and jailed for sexting.
How can I keep my messages private?
That’s the problem…you can’t! Don’t assume it will ever stay private, because it likely won’t. Remember that anything you send, or post, never really goes away. Nothing is anonymous. There is no “changing your mind” once you hit SEND. Even if you think that you are sharing information with only a friend, it’s really easy for them to forward that information on to others. Those others really aren’t thinking about the issues with forwarding to another, or that it may hurt you.
There are additional problems to be aware of in our techno world:
- Be careful with humor. What seems funny when you are talking to someone in person may not be so humorous in a text. It won’t be as obvious that you are kidding, because there is no body language to watch, or voice inflection to hear.
- Be careful of so-called “friends”. People can disguise who they really are on social networking sites. Just because they posted a picture, it doesn’t mean that picture is really them. You don’t always know who is really at the other end at that computer!
- Be careful of what you write about another person. If the message is degrading, offensive, racist, or obscene it could mean a lawsuit against you. Even if you are not the original writer and just passing the message along you could still be in trouble.
Bottom line: If you are not ready, or willing to have the whole world see it, or read it, don’t post it, or send it! Something that seems like fun now can have serious consequences in your future.
NOTE: if a parent is paying your cell phone bill they can request a written copy from the phone company of anything that has been sent on your cell phone through texting!