Hitting headlines recently; talk of Jeremy Hunt arguing social media companies should impose bans from under 18s posting sexually explicit imagery. He believes they have the technology and knowledge at their fingers to enforce this kind of action, therefore they should to increase the safety of young social media users.
Hunt has recommended companies using word and image recognition to prevent sexting across social media platforms.
His statements provoke discussion on a subject of sincerity that can often pose threats to the safety and security of young teens on social media who are using them to communicate sexually. The availability of the internet allows users to speak freely to anyone without perhaps knowing the identity of the receiver. Cross device communication also allows pictures to be shared more places than were intended.
Hunt goes on in his statement to speak of how this measure could also allow social media companies to prevent cyberbullying and put stronger measures in place to allow us to track and cease the issue if it is occurring.
Some agree with his line of thought, parents who are not as aware of the technologies their children may be using could benefits from having simple tools and actions In place so they can monitor and control the interactions being had online.
Others believe the solution lies not in just creating more preventive devices, but in increasing the education of young internet users, informing them of the dangers of speaking with someone online and sending sexually explicit messages and pictures. By informing and increasing awareness of these issues, we naturally build up a defence in the users minds that can help to prevent and deal with the issue.
Where is the message going?
Are you entirely sure that you are sending your image only to the person you are speaking to. It is important you feel comfortable in whatever kind of message you may be sending and a great deal of that comes from trusting the one you are sending it to.
Images these days are easy to share, ensure there are no unknown receivers of your message and make sure you have discussed with the person you are sending it to, what they can do with the photo. If they do save it, or do not delete it ensure they intend it is for their eyes only.
Also whether you are sending or receiving the message, try your best to make sure your device and social media account have passwords only you know and that they are secure. Unfortunately hackers do exist, and though we do our best to keep our information private, always bear it in mind whenever you are considering sending something.
Off screen pressures
When someone stands face to face with us, it is a lot harder to feel confident about these kinds of acts. However, when we are distanced by a screen it can trick us into a false sense of security.
Sometimes being unable to see the reactions of a person in front of you, can make you more insistent. People feel freer to say things on a computer they would not ask for in person, they demand things and can become more aggressive in their approach to a request.
If you do not feel comfortable sending these kinds of images, then don’t. Do not feel like you must respond if you don’t want to, if you explain to the person who is asking why, and they still do not understand, then stop messaging. Always remember you are in control of what you reveal of yourself. No one should have the right to make you do something you do not want to just because they are not in front of you to see how uncomfortable you are.
It is difficult to remember when speaking to different people on things like Tinder or just normal social media, that we do not actually know them that well. The point is no matter how often you speak to someone, we do not know for sure we are speaking to the person we think we are.
Beyond that, even if it is them, a message on Facebook no matter how deep and meaningful it can seem, may not be an exact portrayal of the real person. If you feel comfortable with sending the message, then it is ok. However, if you feel shy because you do not fully trust this person then it is ok to not want to send them an explicit photo of yourself.
Once again this is another point of virtual contact, that if you are unsure of where these photos are going and that makes you feel unsafe then do not send them anything. When it comes to sexting, the right thing to do is whatever you are happy with, define your own boundaries. If you want to then do, if for any reason you are not happy to then don’t.
Only an immature, insensitive soul will respond by calling you frigid by not sending a photo. It means they were not worth your time anyway.
Finally, if you do find yourself in a difficult position
Whatever form it may take, and if this delves into the realms of cyberbullying in any way, or you feel pressured into something you don’t want. Then do not be afraid to talk to someone, tell them.
There are regulations in place on social media that can help and there are people out there away from the internet that can as well. With our world feeling so large and global it is easy to feel like you have been trapped in a difficult situation that may cause you distress, humiliation or shame. It can feel like you are between a rock and hard place and people will attempt to play on your vulnerability. But there are ways around it, even though it may feel impossible.
Talk to someone if that is the case. And even if it isn’t it is always good to be aware of these things whenever you are engaging in conversation via social media. For all the fun it can be, and all the doors it can open; the internet is also a very dangerous place.