What is sexting?

• Sexting is the sending and receiving of sexually explicit photos or videos. Even if you and your friends want to share these types of photos or videos with each other, it is still against the law.
• Sexually explicit photos and videos shared without the other person’s knowledge or consent is also considered sexting – and is also against the law.
• Sexting is even more serious if you are under 18 years of age. It is against the law to send or receive an image or video that involves nudity or even partial nudity of someone under 18.
• Sexting is a serious offence that can carry up to 15 years’ imprisonment. Perpetrators could also be placed on the sex offender register.
• Did you know that if you get caught sexting it could stay on your record, changing the way you’re perceived by those at your school and even your future employer?
• Think about your reputation – what would a family member or your teacher think?
• Be considerate – treat others the way you would like to be treated.
• Sexting can leave you vulnerable to cyberbullying, harassment and, in extreme cases, assault.
• Remember that all of the photos and videos you create with your phone are often saved and retrievable as digital evidence, even years after you’ve taken them. They are sometimes stored on the servers of your mobile provider, in your phone’s Cloud account, or on the memory or SIM card of your phone (or any other phone that has sent and received them) – even if you have deleted them.
• If you’ve posted or seen something inappropriate, talk about it with a trusted adult, such as your mum or dad, a family member, a friend or a teacher.

What information should be kept private?

• Your full name (first, middle and last) – instead use only your first name or an alternate spelling.
• Your date of birth.
• Your address.
• Your phone number. Never share your parents’ phone numbers either, even if something pops up on the screen telling you that you’ve won something.
• Where you go to school. Remember, when you share photos, people will know what you look like. If you also tell them what school you go to or post photos of you in your uniform, it’s very easy for them to find you.
• Your location. While it can be fun to check in to places, you’re then letting people – including strangers – know where you are. It’s also not a good idea to check in when you’re away on holiday, because then you’ve basically told people nobody is home at your place. Think about what information you’ll be giving people before checking in.
• What sport you play, as well as where you play and what time you play. Again, if you’re sharing photos of yourself, others will know what you look like, so they can go to your football, netball or soccer game and find you. It is also easy to find your sporting draw on the internet, which is why you shouldn’t reveal the name of your team. This is also true for other regular activities you may have, such as Scouts or dance.
• Think about your profile picture. Information doesn’t just come from words, it also comes from the pictures you share. Therefore, having an image of a landscape, animal or character may be a good choice for a profile picture. Remember that in many cases your profile picture is never private.
• Passwords. Keeping your password private is very important. Change it regularly and make it hard to guess by using capital letters, numbers and symbols.
• Relationships you have with others online. Often, when sent a request, if we are unsure of who the person is, we look at their profile to see if they are friends with someone we know. If you accept their request without really knowing who they are, they will have access to all of your information. If your friend also gets a request and sees you are ‘friends’ with them, they are likely to accept it even though neither of you actually know the person. So always check there is a real relationship first.
• Consider what constitutes ‘private’ information. This could be any details you wouldn’t want to share with people you don’t know well or at all, such as secrets, confessions and embarrassing content.

How can I protect my security?

• Keep your mobile phone locked (and the passcode or password safe and private) so others can’t grab it, unlock it and use it when you’re not looking.
Only give your phone number to people you know for sure you can trust.
Use secure web browsers with ‘https’ at the start of the URL.

Don’t forget the location settings!

Many social networks allow you to check in each time you tweet or post an update. It might seem like fun for your friends to know where you are, but it can mean that people you don’t know can also see where you are, especially if your profile isn’t private.

To turn off your location settings on Twitter, click on your profile picture at the top right-hand side, scroll down to ‘Settings and privacy’, then to ‘Privacy and safety’ on the left-hand side, then untick the checkbox that says ‘Tweet with a location’. You can also press the button that says ‘Delete location information’, to clear information about where you’ve been in the past. You can also turn your location off on your actual mobile phone.

Australia's sexting laws

It is against the law to send, receive or look at a ‘sext’ when any of the people involved are under the age of 18.

Young people under the age of 18 are considered a child/young person – and it is illegal to look at naked, indecent or inappropriate photos or videos of a child or young person.

If you’re found guilty, you may be placed on the sex offender register, which means the police will always watch you and know your personal information (where you live, your phone number, where you work).

If you have sent a sext to someone, you could ask the person to delete it. However once it is sent you no longer have control over what happens to it, so there really isn’t anything you can do to prevent it from being shared with others.

Think before you send – it could have implications in the future!

Staying out of trouble

Think before you post – once a post is live, it can be difficult to permanently delete it.

Before you post, think about the after-effects, such as what might happen and the consequences.

Bullying in all forms is never acceptable. The evidence of your bullying won’t necessarily ever go away – it may get passed around and can end up where someone, like a potential employer, will see it in the future.

Sharing images that are rude, sexualised (show body parts) and offensive can result in serious consequences, particularly if they clash with the law.