Sexting: Consensual sharing

It makes sense that two people who fancy each other may want to flirt and send each other messages… we as adults may not be comfortable with the fact but there it is none the less.

Indeed, many of the young people we spoke to spoke about sexting as a positive way of negotiating the sex they may have in future, giving or removing consent to certain acts or exploring their personal boundaries with their partner – in a reasonably safe way. They spoke about sexting as a way of having the conversations that we as adults still find difficult. Sexting isn’t always about naked or rude photos…

The majority of young people are pretty savvy and will only share images with someone they trust rather than as a matter of course… yes there are the odd few who are under the illusion that this is what you ‘should do’ or get coerced (more about this later) but for now let’s focus on sharing by choice… Usually sexting is something that people do deliberately; the person sending the content means it to happen. They will pose or act in a sexual way and will make a direct effort to send it to the person they want to see it.

So despite the fact that a young person can have sex with their partner if they chose, from the age of 16 legally – they can’t share rude pictures with their partner until they are 18 – this can lead to some very mixed messages and behaviours…. the reason for this glaring contradiction is that they are different laws – the laws that govern sharing images are child protection laws designed to protect children from being exploited online through pornographic images… so a couple who are legally able to consent to sex – can’t flirt via sexting until they are 18…

The police are currently writing new guidelines to make things clearer – it seems daft to criminalise young people – especially those who are already in a sexual relationship together for flirting consensually when images haven’t been shared beyond the bounds they were intended – especially using child protection laws to needlessly criminalise young people…

Consensual sharing is something that though it may make us uncomfortable is an understandable behaviour for people to do – and that includes young people…. it can be fun, exciting and feel a bit naughty. People wouldn’t do it if it wasn’t a bit of a turn on.

Indeed, people sharing naked pictures as a way of flirting is nothing new.

However, what has changed considerably is the speed and ease with which you can share. At one time you had to take and print a physical photo before you could share it and there would only be one copy. Now however, everyone has a camera on their phone and photos are digital images which can be shared instantly and easily. Indeed, using webcams or sending mobile pictures can be a spontaneous decision, made without thinking about what could happen…

The trouble is, once you press send that photo or film clips is completely out of your control.

To find out more… click next.

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