What exactly is sexting?

Sexting is the sharing of sexually explicit images, videos, or messages through electronic means.

When should I start talking to my child about sexting?

As soon as your child has access to technology. Parents may not get the cue when kids are ready to talk about things like relationships, sex, and sexting, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be curious about it. If they aren’t getting the right information from people they know and trust, they could get the wrong information from someone else.

How can I start the conversation?

With access to technology comes responsibility. Begin by establishing technology ground rules that make it clear what is not acceptable under any circumstances.

For example:

  • Rule #1: It is never OK to ask someone to send explicit photos or videos.

  • Rule #2: It is never OK for someone to ask you for explicit photos or videos – even if it’s someone you like or trust.

  • Rule #3: If anyone asks you for these photos, notify an adult.


My child received a sext. What should I do?

Do not forward. Forwarding images may implicate you in the distribution of child pornography.

Delete Completely. Do not copy, send, share, or show to anyone.

It may be necessary to notify law enforcement or a school official. Understand that there may be consequences of reporting and the possibility of legal ramifications for your child and other children involved. If necessary, speak to an attorney who specializes in these cases.

Help! I think my teenager is already engaged in sexting behavior, or will be soon.

It is important to remind your kids that while curiosity about sexuality is normal, it is never okay to exchange sexually explicit photos – especially between minors. Not only can there be extremely serious legal consequences (even if it is consensual), sexting can take an emotional toll as well. Once a digital image is sent, you have no control over where it goes and you can’t ever get it back. If it isn’t something you would be comfortable sharing with your grownups, it shouldn’t be shared in a text.

Should I be monitoring my child’s phone?

If you are the legal guardian, you are legally and financially responsible for your child’s behavior. Children should be initially informed the grownup owns the phone and using it is a privilege. Grownups have the right and should exercise the right to periodically check the device if the child is in elementary or middle or early high school. If the child is in their later years of high school, phone monitoring can be relaxed if they have earned the trust and freedom.

TWO out of FIVE
adults know little to nothing about their teen’s online activity

TWO out of THREE
girls have been asked for explicit images1

minors report
sharing the sexts
they have received.1

BOYS are
FOUR times more
likely to pressure

GIRLS to sext them.2