A survey conducted by Zeeko, a start up based in Nova UCD working to teach internet safety for parents and teachers and kids, stranger danger and cyberbullying in Ireland, has shown that 13% of school students have participated in sexting by sending a nude or semi-nude photo of themselves.
Sexting is sending, receiving, or forwarding sexually explicit messages, photographs or images, primarily between mobile phones. It may also include the use of a computer or any digital device.
The study surveyed over 3000 students, over 1400 female and 1800 male, across 30 schools for an insight on students’ views and experiences on a range of issues including cyber-bullying, apps, interaction with strangers online as well as sexting.
The survey threw up some interesting results:
- The rate of sexting increases through each year of secondary school
- 4% of first years sent a sext image, compared to 34% of sixth years
- 3% of first years sexted someone they first met online, compared to 15% of sixth years
- 4% of first years sexted a non-partner, compared to 34% of sixth years
- 6% of first years shared a sext they had received vs 27% of sixth years
- Males are more likely to participate in sexting behaviour
- 17% of males sent a nude/semi-nude photo/video of themselves, compared to 9% of females
- 18% of males and 8% of females sexted a non-partner
- 10% of males sexted someone they first met online, compared to 4% of females
- By the time students reach sixth class, over 54% of students admit to speaking to a stranger online.
Cyber-psychologist Dr Marina Everri and Head of Research at Zeeko believes the increase in sexting behaviour should not be seen as alarming, and goes on to say:
“We observed a progressive increase in sexting throughout secondary schools. This should not be considered as an alarming result, rather it should be interpreted considering adolescents’ developmental tasks and needs.
“Adolescence is a crucial phase in defining gender identity and sexual orientation. Adolescents explore sexuality, they are eager to meet peers and partners and establish romantic relationships.”
In the absence of in-school education on the matter, there is a need for parents to educate themselves and their children in online safety and understanding the dangers associated with sexting, cyber-bullying social media and online content.
If you are concerned about your child’s online safety, or are just looking to educate yourself on the subject, there are plenty of online resources available to assist such as Zeeko, Cyber Safe Ireland and Webwise. A quick Google search will bring up plenty more results.
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