Generation Z and The Sexting Epidemic

By Shanghai Family 2022-07-08 21:55:46

The Sexting Epidemic 

Consensual teen sexting is on the rise. They have reached the age of sexual curiosity and they are spending more time on social media than any generation before. The unremitting lockdown during Covid-19 has seen an increase in this. Is it boredom or is it a bridge to attachment? 


What is the Sexting Epidemic 

It is the sharing and receiving of semi-nude or nude pictures, sexually explicit messages, messages propositioning sex, and forwarding other sexts that were meant to be private.

The Teen Brain

Teen brains are wired to seek rewards. The dopamine hit is created in the engagement of risky behavior. They are thrill-seeking, pleasure-seeking, and literally "Go Go Go!" like a Ferrari without brakes. There is a lot of acceleration and little ability to apply brakes and think through consequences. 

Their prefrontal cortex is underdeveloped and the pros of an experience far outweigh the cons. With this comes a lack of impulse control.

Who Does Sexting and Why

Both boys and girls engage in this. There is no profile of an adolescent who will engage in sexting. It could be the teen who is struggling with low self-esteem to the popular kid who has an abundance of self-esteem. It is happening on every social media platform from Gaming Platforms, Kubool, Kik, Yik Yak,, Omegle, WeChat, WhatsApp, Snapchat, and other platforms that have disappearing content.

It is not just risk that enables this. Underneath this, is something deeper. It is an exchange or a transaction of sorts. The currency just differs from case to case.

· It can be for fun between two people in a relationship where the exchange is to deepen the intimacy.

· It could be the assumed glue that hopefully will bind my partner to me and hold the relationship together.

· It can be manipulation. "If you love me, you will send a nude of yourself."

· It could be for affirmation. This may be in the hope that the recipient may affirm their body.

· It may be to impress a crush.

· It could be for status. In other words, "look at the pic I received from the cool girl/ guy at school."

· It can be sextortion. "I have this pic of you and if you don't want me to share it on social media, you need to send me X amount of money" via an e-wallet or some other untraceable payment mechanism.

· It could also be revenge pornography. This is to get back at an ex-girlfriend or ex-boyfriend.

What Can Parents Do

· First and foremost, keep the channels of communication open between your child and yourself. The teen needs to know that you can be the go-to person in times of crisis. They need to know that you have their back.

· Educate your teen about the dangers of sexting. Teens need to know that even on platforms where there is disappearing content, the recipient could take a screenshot and that content will never disappear. Discuss digital footprint and what that means.

· Use opportunities for discussion and not disdain. Ask about peer pressure and talk about what they would do if they were asked to send a nude.

· In the worst-case scenario where your teen has been caught up in the loop of sexting, avoid shaming them, and do not go straight to the consequences. Remain calm and unpack the exchange. For example,“I am here to help you and we need to figure out a solution. We can discuss the consequences later.”

· Remember that there is no such thing as my child will never send a nude!

· Educate your child about sexual preadators. The sexual predators are lurking on social media platforms. The child may not realize that they are talking to one, and they slide into the person's private messages. Here the predator will engage them and make them feel special, possibly lead them to believe that they are in a relationship with this person. The predators' intent is to get nude content from them.

What are the Legal Ramifications

Child pornography is any visual depiction of sexually explicit content involving a child under the age of 18 years.

· Asking for a nude = Solicitation of child pornography

· Being in a nude = Child porngraphy

· Having a nude on your phone = Possession of child porngraphy

· Sharing the nude = Distribution of child pornography

The laws on this differ from country to country and state to state. In most western countries, the age of criminal capacity is usually from age 12 or 14 years and the child can be arrested. From approximately age 7 the child is considered to have civil capacity and can be sued. In cases like this, the guardians of the minors may be subject to civil compensation. 

In China, the age of criminal capacity is 16 years old, and civil capacity from 8 years to 18 years. Capacity is dependent on the nature of the conduct and cognitive ability of the child.

What Can Teens Do

· Delete any unlawful content received.

· Deflect a request with humor. If someone says “Send me a hot pic” you can send an image of a pot of boiling water, or an image of a fire. If they say send a nude, send a pic of your forearm or a wall painted in shades of nude.

· Keep an image on your phone saying “Cannot load photo” or “There is an error in loading this photo.”

· These strategies assist with impulse control. It gives the teen time to think and reflect on the consequences. The implication of these images is, that I am not falling for this!

· If the person persists, speak to your go-to adult and ask for assistance.

· Never “like” content that you have been tagged in. You may be considered to be in the chain of publication.

· Never forward illegal content, you could be considered to be in the chain of publication of unlawful content.

Article contributed by Dr. Vilia Lyell, Psychologist at Parkway. 

For more information or to make an appointment, please call 400-819-6622 or scan the QR code below for online appointment with Dr. Vilia Lyell, Physiotherapist at Parkway.

About Parkway

Parkway is a member of Parkway Pantai Group. ParkwayPantai is Asia’s Leading Healthcare Provider, part of IHH Healthcare. IHH Healthcare operates 80 hospitals with more than 15,000 beds in 10 countries.

Parkway first arrived in China in 2004. In 2006, Parkway opened its first medical center in Shanghai, bringing world-renowned quality healthcare to China. Through the acquisition of World Link Group in 2007, Parkway becomes Shanghai's largest foreign-owned medical network. 

Parkway China is a leading international healthcare provider. With a team of nearly 100 internationally trained physicians, we now operate 8 medical facilities conveniently located in Shanghai, Chengdu and Hong Kong offering more than 40 specialties. We work closely with the best local hospitals with which we share our knowledge and expertise to ensure the best services possible to our patients. We have established direct billing services with over 50 insurance companies. We provide both outpatient and inpatient care for adults and children. Our services include: Family Medicine, Adult Medicine, Pediatrics, Gynecology, Dentistry, Cardiology, ENT, Gastroenterology, Ophthalmology, Dermatology, General Surgery, Orthopedics & Sports Medicine, Urology, Beauty & Skin Care, Psychiatry, Traditional Chinese Medicine & Acupuncture, Osteopathy, etc.