If your child has social media, there’s a good chance they have — or will — send nude photos online.
Kids send nude photos online every day. Millions of times a day, actually.
With 95 million pictures uploaded to Instagram daily, and more than 400 million Snapchat stories created and shared daily, too, there is a high likelihood that the children that jump on these sites (or others like them), will give in to the temptation to gain followers and earn likes through inappropriate posting, commonly called sexting.
Sexting or inappropriate posts, (uploading pictures that are “sexualized” versions of themselves, most commonly in bathing suits, athletic wear or skimpy revealing clothing), have become so common that the American Medical Association has now deemed this sexting activity a “normal” teen behavior.
Let that sink in.
Over the years, I’ve met with thousands of high school students and estimate that 75 percent of these students report they have received or sent a sext. In middle school, roughly 50 percent of students admit the same.
My point? Kids sexting and sending (or selling) nude photos online is common. If you are ok with your child being a part of those statistics then read no further. If you worry about what this may do to your child’s emotional and social wellbeing, then read on and pay attention.
In the span of the past decade, I’ve had hundreds — maybe even thousands — of teens present with self-harm, anxiousness, depression and often even suicidal feelings for one reason: they regretted sending a text, sext or posting something inappropriate online that they can’t take back. They can never ever take it back and they have to live with the consequences.
The biggest issue is that it doesn’t simply end in regret for most kids who send nude photos online.
I had one girl who sent her boyfriend a sext, finally giving in to a request he had been sending for months. His request? “Send me a sexy pic.” Legally, this translates to solicitation of child pornography, multiple counts actually for each request he sent. Her sending it? Distribution of child pornography.
Not only were both cited for these crimes, they were also both charged with possession of child pornography. After talking with the students, parents and teachers, it turned out that one of the more hurtful and realistic consequences was that the images went viral among the students at the school and within 48 hours, a whopping 90 percent of the student population of nearly 2,500 students had viewed them. Within the week, most students within the district had all seen it. The legal consequences were devastating, but the emotional and social consequences of not having any “safe” school to attend left? Unbearable.
Yet, that still isn’t enough of a deterrent for some.
We have to remember there are plenty of reasons kids post and send nude photos online. What they don’t know is that there are also people out there that make a lot of money hunting these down to resell them. The black market for child pornography is a billion dollar industry and our kids are typically unaware of where these pictures end up.
The “business” of selling nude photos has grown immensely in the last few years, thanks largely to streaming apps like LiveMe, YouNow, and FaceCast, that allow kids to easily post and personally monetize their posts through virtual currency accounts attached to the apps such as PayPal.
Kids can earn real money through these platforms depending on the demand for the photos and videos they are uploading to the users of the apps. With a huge percentage of predators looking to gain access to these photos for later use, distribution or resale, unsuspecting teens are easily convinced by the affirmation, encouragement and/or the quick buck to post to these sites without thinking of where these images will end up in the long run.
Risks for selling nude photos online
Quite simply: any child who uploads nude photos online — regardless of whether they sell them — faces child pornography charges because it is illegal.
Longer term, nude photos minors post online can be damaging to their future, such as loss of job opportunities, not being admitted to college, earning a negative reputation among peers and the obvious social and emotional pain that occurs.
Who is buying nude images of minors?
Thanks to the apps, anyone can buy a nude image of underage kids. A special cause of concern are “cappers”, someone that captures images online for resale, typically on black markets. There is a real and serious risk of a minors nude photo falling into the hands of a capper given the amount of content they are posting without regard for the consequences. Cappers can find images passively from social media platforms thanks to kids not setting their accounts to “private”, but they can also obtain them more aggressively from streaming sites where they offer someone virtual currency to children to take videos and photos for them.
Most of the time our children are not even aware they are being manipulated or convinced to do something illegal. It is our job to ensure our children are aware of these potential dangers.
Being a parent is challenging enough without the internet opening up and allowing our kids to push boundaries that we don’t even know exist sometimes.
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