With the outbreak of Covid-19 across the globe, we have seen restaurants, shops, offices, and schools closed to stop the spread of the highly contagious virus, severely limiting our outings and ability to see others. While underage sexting may not be talked about much during a worldwide pandemic, the lack of face to face interaction and reliance of school children on phones and social media to stay in touch while stuck at home does mean a rise in sexting could happen over the coming months.
Not an entirely unexpected result of isolation from peers, the rise in child sexting during this time does mean a few things, and could even result in more nefarious actions from individuals who act to groom young kids. Firstly, the images created and sent by underage children are child pornography, and therefore illegal. Building off of this, the boredom and desire to remain engaged with distant peers could potentially lead to images being forwarded on without consent as youths make the choice or are pressured from afar to share these images with multiple people, because in their minds what else is there to do during an extended period of isolation? The consequences of sexting can have serious ramifications, not only through a legal channel, but also socially as bullying often occurs if nude images are leaked. Secondly, children are regularly groomed by individuals or groups to send nude and indecent images, often through online means by people they have never met. Again, as time spent stuck away from school, peers, and activities grows, children may look to new ways to keep occupied on the internet, and find themselves being approached by paedophiles.
While we desperately hope the coronavirus situation can be managed quickly and safely to get everyone back to their normal routines, the period of isolation and social distancing is probably going to last.
Along with washing hands, social distancing, and remaining vigilant for any Corid-19 symptoms, making sure children are aware of the dangers of sexting is also important.
During a time kids may be inclined to try new things to alleviate boredom or keep some sexual contact with others point to a potential rise in sexting during quarantine, and while the pandemic will end, and image online stays forever.