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Sexting: from play to psychological trauma

Sexting (a combination of the two words “sex” and “texting”) was officially included in the Oxford dictionary five years ago. Sending or receiving sexual messages, nude photos, videos via any digital communication tool is one of the most popular manifestations of 21st-century youth. According to experts, the consequences of sexting can not only psychologically destroy the person himself, but also ruin his career.

Psychologists explain that although most people know about the possible consequences of sexting, they do so not because they want to be in danger or engage in intrigue, but because they feel in love, idealize the other half, and at the same time fully trust the other. It is easy not only for teenagers but also for adults to cling to this “hook of love”.

According to psychologists, determining the extent of sexting is not easy. Although this phenomenon has been discussed for ten years, so far little research has been conducted in Latvia. A 2016 study by the University of Wisconsin in the United States found that 12% of high school and college students sent sexual texts. Meanwhile, 19% admitted to receiving nude photos or videos. After repeating this study in 2019, the manifestations of sexting increased – by 2.8%. The number of students who sent this type of information to others increased by 8.4%.

Sexting boom – teenage years

According to psychologists, the boom in the sharing of intimate photos or videos occurs during adolescence, when the search for sexuality and intimacy, the study of the flesh, and the formation of intimate relationships are especially relevant. According to them, it is a natural part of human development. If in the past people exchanged sheets of paper with intimate texts during lessons, then with the advent of technology, these possibilities expanded. Now young people, as well as adults, exchange photos of a flirty or intimate nature.

Revenge and a damaged career

Negative associations with sexting appear when, through negligence, intimate messages or images fall into the hands of criminals. The most common effects of sexting are the distribution of intimate photos to friends and family. There have been cases where photos have been printed and placed in schools.

Paradoxically, victims of sexting receive far more negative comments and accusations than the people who distributed these photos.

Intimate photos are distributed to intimidate, damage another’s reputation and future, as these photos are usually still available online after a few or more years.

Distributing intimate photos online is not the only threat to sexting. Intimate photos can also be used on various pornography sites to create fake profiles on social networks (catfishing).

Sexting – how to protect yourself?

The best way to protect yourself from the effects of sexting is not to send intimate photos at all, because when you send them, you lose control and you can’t be sure where and for whom the photos will be used.

But we can’t ignore the fact that people share intimate photos, even though they realize it can be dangerous.

There are fewer side effects if the photos are flirty rather than completely naked, they do not contain fully exposed intimate parts of the body, and they do not make people easily recognizable. It is also very important to keep such reports, lists that would remain as evidence in case of unsuccessful sexting.

What if unwanted photos are distributed online?

In that case, try to keep a clear mind and try to contact that person, asking them to be removed from the Internet. If this does not help, seek the help of other trustees. If none of the options work, you can contact the police after the evidence has been gathered. Dissemination of naked body images of children and adolescents under the age of 18 is considered a crime, so those who distribute these images have civil liability.

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