What is sexting, and how do I deal with it?

What guidance does the Bible provide?

The Bible talks explicitly about sex and lust and gives us principles in which we can apply to sexting. We see in 1 John 2:16 that "for everything in the world - the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life - comes not from the Father but from the world"(NIV). God created sex, but He designed it in the confines of marriage. Jesus speaks of the lust of the eyes in Matthew 5:28 and says, "but I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart". Ephesians 5:3 says, "But sexual immorality and any impurity or greed should not even be heard of among you, as is proper for saints"(HCSB). Sexting goes against what God has designed for purity and marriage relationships.

Things to think about:

First of all, what is sexting? Sexting is using social media or technology to send inappropriate pictures or texts, often completely nude or topless, to people that they sender knows. Sexting is commonly done within the context of some sort of relationship. However, these relationships may not be in person relationship, but could also be online relationships. Since ALL smartphones have cameras attached, as do most computers, it is relatively easy to snap a picture of something indecent and send it to someone. Some of the popular ways of doing this are through social media apps like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat.

Snapchat became very popular because it allows the user to take a picture, send it to someone, and that picture to be supposedly erased forever. One of the key things to know about technology is that nothing is gone forever. Snapchat and other apps can be hacked in order to retrieve old pictures, and all information processed through apps is stored somewhere locally on a server. There are a few serious consequences that can be a part of sexting:

  • Pictures can be distributed quickly and easily, and reach a whole school campus in hours
  • Images can be used against the person (bullying, blackmail)
  • If the people are underage and depending upon the situation, they could be charged with possession of child pornography

What do I do now?

If you have determined that your child is indeed sexting with someone, the first step is to talk about it with them. Before talking with them, pray about it, ask for guidance from trusted friends or pastors, and go into the talk with the prayer of healing and grace. Parents need to talk to their child about sex http://xxxchurch.com/get-help/parents/talk

They also need to talk to them about safe boundaries in regards to social media and technology. They need to be open and honest with the child about the consequences of sexting, and the damage it can cause. Determine who the person your child is sexting with, and find out about the extent of their relationship. If it is another child, it could be more beneficial to go to the other parents before instead of talking with the police. If you feel that there may be malicious intent may be involved then you may need to talk with a lawyer, expert, or police. Restrictions on technology would help the child from sending any more sexting pictures.

Remember in all of this that there is a reason that your child is sending these pictures. Perhaps it is for attention, or for feelings of love. Whatever the reason may be, this is a time in which you can shepherd your child's heart. Point them back to Jesus, and remind them that Jesus is the source of their identity and that they are loved by Him. Love your child no matter what their response may be.

Want to go deeper?

Here are a few great resources to help:

Sexting - Article from XXX Church with great information for parents.

Digital Kids Initiative - Website that helps equip Christian parents to navigate the highly technological world of teens.

Iparent.tv - Website helping parents understand technology and the implications of technology.