We know that some people are sexting. So if you’re going to participate, how can you reduce the risk and potential harm? No sex act is ever 100% safe, but there are lots of things you can do to practice safer sexting. Note: for people under 18, sexting is still illegal in the US and most other countries.
- Everything digital is not meant to be public–never assume that the format of something private (an email or a digital photo, for example), means that it is ok to distribute it.
- Learn, use, and promote the affirmative consent model in your sexual relationships and among your peers. Think about sexting as a sex act and always make sure you have enthusiastic consent from your partner before you create or share any sexual images. If you create or share a sexual image of someone without their consent, this is a serious violation and a form of sexual violence that can be devastating and traumatic for the victim.
- Make sure your partner wants to receive a sexual image before you send it. Talk or text about it first; don’t just assume they want to see it. Even if you already have a sexual relationship, the other person may not be interested in sexual images.
- Never coerce or pressure another person to engage in any sex act, including creating and sending sexual images. If you ask once and the person says “no,” accept their answer.
- Consider safer-sexting strategies. For example: crop your face or other identifying marks out of suggestive photos, delete old photos often and ask your partner to do the same, and consider an app that deletes photos automatically after they’ve been viewed.
- Avoid blaming the victims of privacy violations. We don’t blame people who got an STD from a cheating partner, and we shouldn’t blame sexters whose trust was betrayed either.
- Be aware of and work on resisting rape culture, slut-shaming, homophobia, and the sexual double standard in your everyday life. We should accept that most people express themselves sexually in some way; it’s unfair to condemn and criticize women and girls for it (for example, by harassing female sexters and calling them “sluts” or telling victims of privacy violations that they deserved it).
- Speak out against gender- and sexuality-based insults when you hear them.
- A guide to digital security
- Kids help phone has an excellent site about sexting for teens, though the legal advice only applies in Canada.
- An article about sexting and slut-shaming from teenvogue.com
- “Can Sexting Improve Your Relationship?:” A video that reviews some research and focuses on consent:
- Here is some great advice on sexting from sexuality educator Laci Green:
- Click through to see Erika Moen’s “Sexy Photos Primer:”