Sexting: What parents need to know

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Sexting is the sending or posting of nude or partially nude images. With the availability of technologically advanced cell phones, sexting is a growing issue for teens.  4% of cell-owning teens (12-17) say they have sent nude or partially nude images.*


  • To prevent your teen from sexting, set house rules for Internet and cell phone use with your teen.
  • Open conversation with your teen about the consequences of sharing revealing pictures (your family rules, the laws and the embarassment potential).
  • Know the apps your teens are downloading and using. Look for apps such as Snap Chat, Yik Yak, and Kik on their mobile devices and understand how they work.
  • Remember to model appropriate behavior for your children in your own use of technology and social media.


Try these discussion starters:

• Have you ever heard of teens sending or receiving a sexual message or naked picture on their cell phone?

• Has anyone ever asked or pressured you or a friend to send a nude or sexual picture?

• What do you think about sending “sexy” images? Why do you think kids try that?

• What could happen to you if you send or forward a naked picture?

• How likely is it that images and messages intended for one person will be seen by others?


1. Think about the CONSEQUENCES of taking, sending, or forwarding a sexual picture of someone else, even if it’s of you. You could get kicked off of sports teams, face humiliation, lose educational opportunities, and even face a police investigation.

2. Never take images of yourself that you wouldn’t want everyone – your classmates, your teachers, your family, or your employer – to see.

3. Before hitting send remember that you can’t control where this image may travel. What you send to a boyfriend or girlfriend could easily end up with their friends, and their friends’ friends, and so on.

4. If you forward a sexual picture of someone without their consent, you are violating their trust and exposing them to potential ridicule. It’s not up to you to decide who should see their body, so don’t forward the image to anyone.

5. If anyone pressures you to send a sexual picture, don’t give in and talk to an adult you trust. Remember that anyone who tries to get you to do something you are uncomfortable with is probably not trustworthy.

*Source of stats and ideas for 5 tips: National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Learn more at