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How much sexting goes on?

By Geraldine Bedell


The teenage desire for risk-taking, plus interest in sexual exploration, plus constant connectivity all combine to create a perfect storm for sexting.

According to Claire Lilley, head of child safety online at the NSPCC, sexting can involve a range of things, from 'a nude or provocative picture in their underwear, to a rude text or video.'

Research by Plymouth University found that 40% of 14-16 year-olds said they had friends who had engaged in this kind of texting.

  • 20% of them didn't think there was anything wrong with sending images involving full nudity.
  • 40% thought going topless was acceptable.

Plenty of teens who get involved in sexting will be OK - the pictures will never be shared in a way that makes them unhappy. Danah Boyd, author of an influential paper on sexting, says: 'It's important to remember that most teens never get caught for their participation in sexting. It's not a rare practice, but it's not typically a visible one.'

But the point is, they might be. A couple of years ago, Tulisa Contostavlos was horrified when a tape she had made with her former partner was leaked. 'When you share an intimate moment with someone you love, you never imagine for a moment that it may at any point be shared with the rest of the UK,' she said.


Photo: Dhilung Kirat, CC BY