In an ever-increasingly digital world, sexting is becoming a much more common practice for many.
Sexting involves sharing texts, images or videos of a sexual or sexually provocative nature between individuals. It is most likely to occur in younger adults, but is also enjoyed by plenty of older people too.
It can also be a fun way to flirt or build up a level of sexual anticipation or excitement in your relationship.
When it comes to sexting, some people may have questions or concerns.
So, we’ve taken a look at some common questions about sexting, including whether it’s healthy, the impact it could have and what you should be aware of.
Is sexting healthy?
Yes, sexting is completely normal!
In many cases, sexting can lead to an increase in sexual satisfaction in relationships. It can be an exciting way to share your sexual desires with your partner and explore a new area of intimacy.
It can sometimes be a less embarrassing way for some people to share their sexual ideas and feelings with a partner, where the idea of doing so face-to-face is challenging.
However, it is also perfectly normal to not enjoy the concept of sexting and not want to engage in it. Sexting isn’t for everyone and you shouldn’t feel pressured to do it.
No matter how you feel towards sexting, it is important to remember that the decision to engage in sexting is completely up to you – and it’s OK to say no!
What’s legal and what isn’t?
Sexting can be a great way to add another level of intimacy to your relationship and a fun way to flirt with your partner. However, it is important to be aware of the law and the potential risks involved.
When it comes to sexting and the law, you may be wondering what’s legal and what isn’t. Whilst sending text messages of a sexual nature is legal, it is illegal to send sexually explicit images (nudes) if you or the person receiving them is under the age of 18.
In all circumstances, it is important you have consent when sexting.
Are there any risks to sexting?
Sexting is an activity you may want to engage in at any age, including as a teenager or young adult.
Whatever your age, before engaging in sexting, there are some potential risks you should be aware of;
- Be certain that you can trust the intentions of your partner. It is important to be sure that the person you are sending the messages or images to won’t show their friends or share them publicly. If in doubt, ask!
- Images and texts can sometimes be used to bully or even blackmail the sender. Again, its important to understand and clarify the intentions of the person you send the messages to.
- Revenge porn is when someone shares intimate images of someone else, with the intent of humiliating, intimidating or causing them distress. If you are a victim of intimate image abuse, you can speak to someone you trust or contact the revenge porn helpline at https://revengepornhelpline.org.uk/.
Can sexting have an impact on mental health?
Many individuals enjoy consensual sexting and feel empowered or a greater sense of self-confidence as a result.
However, for some individuals, the pressures of sexting can make them feel anxious and self-conscious.
It is important to ensure you feel comfortable with your partner when sexting. If you are asked to do something you are not ok with, it can increase anxiety. It is important to seek advice and support from someone you trust if you are ever in this situation.
Non-consensual sexting – including receipt of unsolicited nude images or texts of a sexual nature – can make you feel violated or intimidated. This can impact your mental health.
If you are a victim of this, you should report the incident to the police and seek support.
What is consent?
Consent occurs when all parties voluntarily agree to any sexual activity – whether physical, verbal or otherwise – which they are engaged in.
Consent is an extremely important factor when it comes to anything sexual, including sexting. It is important that you give and receive consent before engaging in any sexual activity.
Even after consent has been given, each individual has the right to withdraw it at any point if they no longer want to engage in the agreed activities.
You should never feel pressured into doing or sending anything you don’t want to – and it’s important to remember that sexting is not an obligation for further sexual behaviour.
If you receive any unwanted explicit texts or images from someone without your consent, it can be shocking and you may not know how to react.
It is perfectly normal to feel intimidated or distressed, but if this happens you should report and block the sender and speak to someone you trust.
What support is out there?
If you’ve been involved in sexting which you have not agreed to or has made you feel uncomfortable, support is available.
You can talk to someone you trust, such as a friend, parent, guardian or teacher.
Additionally, there are many organisations out there which can offer you support and guidance:
- Childline – you can contact Childline about anything and they can support you, visit https://www.childline.org.uk/get-support/
- CEOP (Child Exploitation and Online Protection) – If you are worried about online sexual abuse, CEOP can offer you help, visit https://www.childline.org.uk/get-support/
- NSPCC – you can contact the NSPCC for support and guidance on anything, including online safety and sexual abuse at: https://www.nspcc.org.uk/keeping-children-safe/