When Inappropriate Photos Go Viral
"It's gone viral". That's an expression many of us are probably pretty familiar with in our digital culture. A funny meme on social media that has hundreds of thousands of "likes"; an insightful comment on Twitter that has been retweeted many times; or a news article that's hit the national wires may be examples of how a piece of media can start off being accessible to a few people and end up being seen by countless others. Tragically, "going viral" can also apply to suggestive photos that teens may take of themselves and share with someone else.
Even if you've never heard of "sexting", if you have a teen or even pre-teen in your life, they probably have. It's bad enough if a guy or girl is asking them to send nude or semi-nude pictures of themselves from their phones. It gets exponentially worse, however, when you realize that these photos can go viral. Once a picture is texted or posted online, it is nearly impossible to take it back.
This video does a great job at explaining the harm that a photo going viral can do. Adolescents who consider sending an inappropriate photo to one person, probably never envision that photo being passed around an entire school or posted by someone on the internet. If you want to start a discussion with a young person in your life about this issue, watching this video is a great way to start.
Watch the video together and then ask them their impressions. Have they ever witnessed this happening to someone they know? How would they feel if someone shared photos of them? Open conversations with the young people you care for can build trust and lines of communication. And, if they find themselves in a situation where someone is asking them to send these sorts of photos, you have given them knowledge and understanding that may prompt them to say, "No thanks."
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