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Sexting is exchanging sexual messages, photos or videos by text message, social media or email. Some people sext as a way to flirt, to be close to someone without risking pregnancy or a sexually transmitted disease (STD) or simply because they are curious. Some people may think sexting is harmless, but nothing we send on our phones or online is private, including text messages, emails or direct messages.

Once you send a sexual message, it could be shared with other people without your knowledge or permission. Forwarding a sexual message you receive or posting a screenshot of a sext online may also be illegal in your state if the message contains a photo of a young person.

Considering how risky it is to send sexual messages, never pressure anyone to send you a sext. If someone is pressuring you to send a sext, remember that it is okay to say “No.” If someone sends you a sext, do not share it with friends or classmates. If you receive an unwanted sext that makes you feel uncomfortable, ask the person not to send any more sexts. Talk with a trusted adult if the person continues to sext you.

It’s normal to have sexual thoughts and feelings and to want to express your attraction for another person. While sexting may seem like a safe and easy way to do that, it is important to consider all the possible consequences before deciding to send a sexual text message.


How can I make my phone safe?

Just like you put a case on your phone to protect it on the outside, you can protect your apps and personal info on the inside. If you’re not sure what info your apps have access to, you can review app permissions through your phone’s privacy settings. In your settings, you can also make sure location settings are off and that your phone isn’t regularly charging your credit card or posting on your social networks. Feel free to ask an adult for help doing this!

What is cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying refers to cruel or bullying messages sent online. These might be from former friends, people you go to school with or other people you know. Sometimes it’s hard to know where it’s coming from or who’s doing it because of screen names, but if someone is sending you mean messages online, don’t be afraid to ask for help!

If I think I’m experiencing cyberbullying, what can I do?

It’s often recommended that you ignore bullying messages instead of responding to them, but we know that’s tough! Instead, you could try to delete or block bullies, so you don’t see their messages or texts. Ignoring cyberbullying isn’t your only option, and you definitely don’t have to face it alone! It’s a good idea to get help from a parent, school counselor or another trusted adult. That’s especially true if the cyberbullying contains threats.

The internet is a great place for young people to do research for school, share pictures with friends, play video games or check out the latest trending videos. It’s important to remember that billions of people access the internet, so there are lots of opportunities to connect—but not everyone has the best intentions for doing so.

It is never okay to bully someone. Bullying someone online—through email, social media, text messaging or any other website or app—is called cyberbullying, and it is a form of bullying.

It’s important for young people to think critically before sharing personal information, pictures or videos online. Nothing on the internet is completely private, but young people can avoid unwanted contact and unwanted content by using online safety tools, understanding privacy and location settings and keeping strong passwords.


It’s best to start conversations about online safety early. Instead of trying to figure out what your child is doing on social media and with other technology, coach your child through each platform and strategies to explore safely. With your help, your child can grow as a person by exploring the world of technology and the internet while you provide a safety net of trust to fall back on.

Here are some ways to start these conversations:

Sit down with your child to look at funny videos or pictures

Sit down with your child to look at funny videos or pictures, creating the space for your child to be comfortable with you and your online presence.

Talk with your family at dinner about social media

Social media is so pervasive that it can be a completely natural, comfortable topic of conversation with your child. You can say something like, “Did you see how the election was all over Twitter, Facebook and Instagram today?”

Lastly, just like we instill in our children a sense of self-worth, confidence and self-empowerment in their everyday lives, it is just as important to have conversations about how to carry those values into their online behavior. For example, you can say, “Today is your cousin’s birthday. Why not post a picture of the two of you from our last family trip?”