Most parents know the term "sexting" refers to the sending of sexually explicit material through text, but not all sexts are the same in degree of seriousness or content. Sexting can actually be categorized into 3 different groups:
Sexually Provocative Images: It is illegal to possess or send sexually explicit images of children under 18. This law applies to children sending photos of themselves or friends.
Text only (highly graphic): Texts of this nature would not be illegal, but highly inappropriate, and could be used to bully or extort.
Text only (low graphic): Texts of this nature would not be illegal, but inappropriate, and could be used to bully or extort.
All sexting is inappropriate for children. Sexting, both image and text, encourages sexual objectification and hinders the formation of healthy relationships. In addition, no text is private. Any message can be forwarded or posted online, and then used as a platform for cyberbullying or extortion.
Parents should discuss the importance of sending appropriate messages, and establish clear rules and guidelines (which may include checking text histories daily).