According to the Pew Research Internet Project, sexting is becoming more common among singletons and those in committed relationships. On the one hand, we have a nifty way of connecting with our significant others quickly, over distances, and with multimedia features. On the other hand, it’s easy to share those texts, pictures, etc. and have them end up in the wrong hands. (In some cases, they can end up all over the web.)

Use Protection

Know the security features of the messaging application you’re using.  The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) recently compiled a Secure Messaging Scorecard comparing popular messaging apps on a variety of features including: privacy of previous conversations, encryption of outgoing messages, and more. Also, if you are (legitimately) concerned that sending a picture to someone could come back to haunt you, don’t count on an app like SnapChat to save you. For starters, SnapChat is not the most secure app out there, according to the EFF. Also, while the app’s website promotes SnapChat as a way to share a moment and only make it viewable for up to 10 seconds, the company still needs to warn you that the recipient can take a screenshot. SnapChat will notify you if s/he does that, but all that does is let you know if you really need to start spinning a story for your conservative family members.

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A Little Discretion Goes a Long Way

It’s easy to get caught up in the moment. A really happy happy hour combined with mixed company can bring out the amateur photographer in any of us. Any picture you don’t want your grandma to see probably shouldn’t be texted or emailed, but since we know that’s not always a realistic policy, at least try to avoid sending anything to someone you don’t trust.  As one of the male advisors in He Texted pointed out: guys will ask for pictures of whatever parts they’re interested in not because they like you, but because they can. Since it’s yes or no, they have a 50/50 shot at getting free nude photos and they can share with their friends. The male brain can be a strange and dangerous place.

Have an Agreement

In an age where the definition of consent is one of the most important pieces of any intimate act, it’s worth noting that anything you do with a partner in bed, online, or by phone should be discussed in terms of guidelines you have agreed to. For example, agreeing to erase drunk pics from the night before is a good policy. Also, never threaten a significant other with showing dirty pictures to his or her parents if you break up or have a fight. That makes your relationship into the other person placating you as a long-term project. We want to be loved, not placated. Be trustworthy so your partner can trust you.

In Summary

·      Sexts and nudes can end up anywhere, so be cautious about engaging in this behavior.

·      Only communicate with people you know in this way and only when you can verify they are the person on the receiving end of the chat and that you have clear agreements about destroying the texts and photos.