Social Media, Mobile Phones and Sexting


  • Among 13-17 year olds in the United States, a 2018 study (Social Media, Social Life) conducted by Common Sense Media in 2018 found:

    Teens overwhelmingly choose Snapchat (41 %)  as their main social media site, followed by Instagram (22%) and Facebook (15%)

    • Social media use has increased dramatically by teens. 89% have a smart phone (compared to 41% in 2012), and 70% of teens are on social media multiple times a day (compared to 34% in 2012).
    • 54% of teens report that if parents knew what actually happened on social media, they’d be a lot more worried about it.
    • 1 in 5 teens report says they check notifications while driving at least sometimes. 44% say they “never” do. (Distracted driving)s
  • Teens with low social-emotional well-being experience more of the negative effects of social media than kids with high social-emotional well-being.  “Social Media, Social Life 2018″ by Common Sense Media”
  • At least one in four teens are receiving sexually explicit texts and emails, and at least one in seven are sending sexts. More than one in 10 teens are forwarding these sexts without consent, the study found. And roughly one in 12 teens have had sexts they sent shared without their permission. (Reuters Health, February 2018)


  • Since 2013, the amount of time young kids spend on mobile devices has tripled from 15 minutes a day in 2013 to 48 minutes a day in 2017(The Common Sense Census: Media Use by Kids Age Zero to Eight 2017)
  • Instagram and Snapchat are the most popular social sites for Gen Z and Millennials, garnering 71 percent and 66 percent of mentions respectively. Facebook is at 54 percent while Twitter sits at 42 percent, though these are still trending with the youth, they have drifted since according to PEW Research, Facebook is a favorite for adults (parents included) at 74 percent. (, June 2017).


  • There is a lack of clarity regarding the law around sexting: half of parents are unaware that it is illegal for a child to take a naked or sexual image of themselves and 28% do not know that it is illegal for a child to send a naked or sexual image to a peer. (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, August 2016)
  • Children are accessing pornography via mobile devices.  PornHub said its users watched 4.6 billion hours of pornography in 2016, 61% via smartphone and 11% via tablet.  
  • According to the Library of Congress, in the UK:.
    • 43 percent of nine- to 12-year-olds have a social media profile
    • One in three are on Facebook despite the 13-year-old age limit. 
    • A quarter of those kids on Facebook never touch the privacy restrictions on their profile, and a fifth of them publicly display their address and/or phone number.
    • In regard to Victim ID Theft, Carnegie Mellon CyLabs says children are over 50 times as likely to have their social security number used by another person.
    • One in 40 families has a child who is a victim of identity theft, according to the Identity Theft Assistance Center and the Javelin Strategy & Research Group, and that figure is on the rise 
      (Comparitech. “Protecting Children’s Privacy – A Guide for Parents, Carers and Educators.” April 20, 2016).  Nearly 3,000 people aged 18 to 54 were surveyed and one in 10 respondents reported that someone had posted online or sent to others nude or seminude pictures of them without their permission and 9.6% reported that someone threatened to post such images or to send them to others (Technology-Facilitated Sexual Violence Victimization: Results From an Online Survey of Australian Adults, October, 2016)
  • Nearly 3,000 people aged 18 to 54 were surveyed and one in 10 respondents reported that someone had posted online or sent to others nude or seminude pictures of them without their permission and 9.6% reported that someone threatened to post such images or to send them to others (Technology-Facilitated Sexual Violence Victimization: Results From an Online Survey of Australian Adults, October, 2016)



  • Sexting behaviors are significantly associated with consuming pornography. Van Ouytsel J; Ponnet K; Walrave M. “The associations between adolescents’ consumption of pornography and music videos and their sexting behavior,” Cyberpsychol Behav Soc Netw. 2014 Dec; 17(12): 722-8, at
  • 37% of 3 and 4 year olds use their parent’s tablets and smartphones as do 87% of 5 to 7 year olds. ( – accessed June 6, 2014).
  • More than half (54%) of young adults ages 18-22 admit to sexting as minors.
    • 28% acknowledged sending photographic sexts.
    • Girls send photographic sexts twice as often as boys.
      Van Ouytsel J; Ponnet K; Walrave M. “The associations between adolescents’ consumption of pornography and music videos and their sexting behavior,” Cyberpsychol Behav Soc Netw. 2014 Dec; 17(12): 722-8, at
  • A third of 11 to 14 year olds have watched porn on a mobile device. Jonathan Blake, “Mobile porn access ‘damaging’ children and teenagers,” BBC Newsbeat, 2/11/14, at
  • About half of 15 to 17 year olds have accessed pornography on a smartphone or tablet. Jonathan Blake, “Mobile porn access ‘damaging’ children and teenagers,” BBC Newsbeat, 2/11/14, at
  • Music video consumption is significantly associated with asking someone for a sexting message, especially for boys. Ouytsel, J., Ponnet, K. & Walrave, M. (2014) “The Associations Between Adolescents’ Consumption of Pornography and Music Videos and Their Sexting Behavior.” Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking. Vol 17 (12).
  • Dr Mariek Vanden Abeele highlights that peer pressure and popularity are key factors in why teens sext, despite knowing the potential risks. “Sex and the Media” issue of Routledge’s Media Psychology, authors Mariek Vanden Abeele, Ph.D., Scott W Campbell, PhD., Steven Eggermont, PhD., and Keith Roe, PhD 2014 


Social Media is now the number one activity on the web

  • 93 % of teen Facebook users share their real name (PEW Research Center, 2013)
  • 92% of teen Facebook users share pictures of themselves (PEW Research Center, 2013)
  • 21% of teen Facebook users share their personal cell phone number (PEW Research Center, 2013)
  • 25% of teen Facebook users share videos of themselves (PEW Reseach Center, 2013) 
  • 95% of teens use the internet (Pew Internet & American Life Project, 2013)
  • One-third of youth ages 11 to 17 have their own cell phones today; it is expected that half will have them within the next two years (English, Bella. “The Secret Life of Boys: Pornography is a Mouse Click Away, and Kids Are Being Exposed To It In Ever-Increasing Numbers.”…12/secret_life_of_boys/)
  • According to a 2013 ChildLine poll of 500 children in the UK, ages 13 to 18:
    • 60% said they have been asked for explicit photos or videos of themselves.
    • 38% said they had created a sext. Of these, 32% said they had sent it to someone they knew online only (not in real life).
    • Of those who sent a sext, 20% said it had been shared with others, and 28% said they did not know if it was shared. Daniel Martin, “60% of teens face ‘sexting’ pressure: More than half have been asked to take explicit self-portrait in practice that is now seen as ‘pretty normal’ by youngsters,” Oct. 16, 2013. article-2463751/Sexting-More-half-teens-asked-explicit-self-portraits.html (accessed Dec. 29, 2015)


  •  88% of the self-generated, sexually explicit online images and videos of young people their analysts encountered had been taken from their original location and uploaded onto other websites. (Internet Watch Foundation, 2012). 
  • 3 in 10 teens text more than 100 times a day (Pew Internet & American Life Project, 2012)

Internet Safety Statistics

  • Technologies designed to prevent access to pornography or other online content perceived as harmful—are presented as possible protective measures, and on average, a quarter of European families report using them. (July 2018: Internet Filtering and Adolescent Exposure to Online Sexual Material)  
  • 72 percent of Americans believe their accounts are secure with only usernames and passwords, yet every two seconds there is another victim of identity fraud. Your usernames and passwords are not enough to keep your accounts secure. (Stop. Think. Connect .(n.d.) “Lock Down Your Login“, accessed 1-16-2017 from 
  • When it comes to online enticement, girls make up the majority (78%) of child victims—while the majority (82%) of online predators are male. And 98% of online predators have never met their child targets in real life. (National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, “The Online Enticement of Children: An In-Depth Analysis of CyberTipline Reports
  • 50 percent of American adults are worried about the amount of personal information about them online, while 47 percent said they were not confident they understood what would be done with their data once it was collected (National Cyber Security Alliance, January 12, 2017). 
  • 39% of parents report using parental controls for blocking, filtering or monitoring their teen’s online activities (Pew Research Center, January 2016)
  • Internet safety was the 4th most commonly identified “big problem”, up from #8 in 2014. Sexting received the biggest change in rating this year, from #13 in 2014 to #6 in 2015 (
  • Just 28% of parents have installed software on computers to prohibit certain website visitation; only 17% have such software on mobile devices, and just 15% on gaming consoles (Cox Communications 2012).
  • One in two parents do not use any blocking or filtering software on their children’s Internet enabled devices. (FamilyPC Survey, August, 2001)
  • Nine in 10 teens say their parents have talked to them about online safety. 
    • However, nearly half (49%) of teens claim thier parents do nothing to monitor their devices. Cox. (2014) “Cox 2014 Internet Safety Survey.” The Futures Company. ?
  • Nearly half of teens admit to taking action to hide their online behavior from parents. Cox. (2014) “Cox 2014 Internet Safety Survey.” The Futures Company.
  • 46% of teens have cleared their search history and/or cookies on their browser. Cox. (2014) “Cox 2014 Internet Safety Survey.” The Futures Company.
  • 1 in 5 teens have used a private browsing feature so their parents can’t see the sites they’ve visited. Cox. (2014) “Cox 2014 Internet Safety Survey.” The Futures Company.
  • 14% of teens report friends have invited someone over that they had only met online. Cox. (2014) “Cox 2014 Internet Safety Survey.” The Futures Company.
  • On average, teens spend 5 hours and 38 minutes online every day. Cox. (2014) “Cox 2014 Internet Safety Survey.” The Futures Company. 
  • 18% of teens have considered meeting with someone in person whom they first met online.
    • Of these, 58% have actually met up with someone in person. Cox. (2014) “Cox 2014 Internet Safety Survey.” The Futures Company. 

Online Parenting

  • 71% of teens have admitted to hiding what they do online from their parents (this includes clearing browser history, minimizing a browser when in view, deleting inappropriate videos, lying about behavior, using a phone instead of a computer. Jamie Le, “The Digital Divide: How the Online Behavior of Teens is Getting Past Parents,” June 2012. http://www. accessed Dec. 29, 2015).

Statistics: Porn's Impact on the Brain

  • The exposure of children to internet pornography is harming their developing brains.  “Pornography consumption is associated with decreased brain volume in the right striatum, decreased left striatum activation, and lower functional connectivity to the prefrontal cortex.”  (Journal of the American Medical Association Psychiatry – 2014).  “…teens and pre-teens with highly plastic brains are compulsively using high-speed Internet porn with their porn tastes becoming out of sync with their real-life sexuality.” (Psychology Today – 2016).  Exposure to pornography between 9 and 13 is linked to high-risk behaviors (The Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry – 2001). 
  • A 2015 study by the Journal of Sex Research demonstrated that “constant novelty and primacy of sexual stimuli as particularly strong natural rewards make internet pornography a unique activator of the brain’s reward system” and “novelty is compelling because it triggers bursts of dopamine in regions of the brain strongly associated with reward and goal-directed behavior.” (2015) Journal of Sex Research
  • Our brains react to pornography the same way an alcoholic might react to seeing a drink advertisement. Voon, V. (2014) Neural Correlates of Sexual Cue Reactivity in Individuals with and without Compulsive Sexual Behaviours. University of Cambridge. [Accessed 29th December 2015]
  • Researchers believe that pornography’s intense stimulation of the brain brings about significant changes to the brain similar to drug addiction. Simone Kühn, Jürgen Gallinat, “Brain Structure and Functional Connectivity Associated With Pornography Consumption: The Brain on Porn,” JAMA Psychiatry 71 (July 2014): 827-834.
  • Researchers have found a correlation between brain activity and age – the younger the age, the greater level of activity in the ventral striatum of the brain in response to pornography. Cambridge University. (2014) “Brain activity in sex addiction mirrors that of drug addiction.”
  • Those with compulsive sexual behavior have brain activity that mirrors those of drug addicts. Cambridge University. (2014) “Brain activity in sex addiction mirrors that of drug addiction.”
  • As hours of reported pornography use increases, the amount of grey matter in the brain decreases. Kuhn, S. and Gallinat, J. (2014) “Brain Structure and Functional Connectivity Associated With Pornography Consumption: The Brain on Porn.” JAMA Psychiatry.

What Is Sextortion? How to Keep Your Teen Safe from Online Predators

It can happen in a matter of minutes, but the trauma can stay with victims forever. Unlike cyberbullying, which most parents know about and discuss with their teens, sextortion isn’t on a lot of parents’ radars, leaving kids unguarded and vulnerable to attacks.

According to the FBI, sextortion occurs when one person, using threats or manipulation, coerces another person into sharing sexually explicit images over the Internet or a cell phone. Even if the perpetrator doesn’t do physical harm, teens can still experience emotional and psychological damage. Their images could also find their way onto the Internet and the dark web. Sextortion victims have committed suicide because they were so ashamed of being exposed to their friends and families.

Sextortion is particularly dangerous because many parents don’t realize their child is at risk. But the statistics tell us a different story:

  •       According to the FBI, sextortion cases are up 60 percent in the last five years
  •       71 percent of all sextortion victims are minors
  •       78 percent of sextortion victims are girls, with an average age of 15
  •       83 percent of sextortion cases involve social media manipulation
  •       1 in 4 minors victimized by sextortion sought medical or mental health care

How Sextortion Works

Strangers convince their victims to share explicit photos through a sophisticated process known as grooming. A predator will initiate contact with a teen over a public platform, such as social media or gaming sites, and then quickly moves the conversation to a private chatroom or messaging app. The grooming may be subtle at first, but depending on the minor’s age and sex, it can progress fairly quickly.

These predators are smart, conniving, and very adept at impersonating tweens and teens online. In order to lure the child into sharing explicit images, they may use photos from other teens as their profile image, and they may also use graphic photos and videos of previous sextortion victims which they pretend to be their own,

Know the Warning Signs

Most teens have been told to be careful of friend requests from strangers, but that alone isn’t enough. It’s also important that they know how to spot red flags in the other person’s online behavior.   There are six warning signs of grooming to watch out for:

  •      The “friend” sends a lot of messages over a short period of time
  •      They ask your teen to keep the relationship a secret
  •      They ask for personal information, such as where the child lives
  •      They try to find out when your teen is alone
  •      They gradually steer the conversations toward sexual themes
  •      And, eventually, they solicit revealing, nude or sexual images from the child

How Do We Keep Teens Safe?

The most effective way to protect your child from sextortion is to know what they are doing online. Don’t be afraid to get involved in your kids’ online lives. For some, this means checking in on their social media activity, while others may choose to establish ground rules and baseline expectations through an “acceptable use” agreement.Here are some Internet safety rules we encourage you to share with your teen:

  • Set your profiles to private
  • Do not accept friend requests or follow requests from strangers
  • Never share personal information or photos with strangers online
  • Only chat online with people you know in real life
  • Never meet strangers from social media in real life
  • Avoid using hashtags that predators follow, such as #modeling, #bikini, or anything else that indicates revealing images are soon to follow. It’s also important not to share those images in the first place, since predators actively hunt for them online
  • Avoid revealing location data, whether it is GPS-tagging in photos, GPS sharing in apps or “checking in” for regularly scheduled activities
  • For tweens and younger teens, consider adding a disclaimer to their profile that lets everyone know it is being watched (“Monitored by parents”)
  • Encourage your child to have open and honest conversations with you about things that happen online, even if they are embarrassing

Other Ways to Prevent Sextortion

If you’re looking for ways to monitor your teen’s online activity, in addition to getting their passwords and manually checking their accounts, you can also sign up for one of many available online monitoring tools like Qustodio or KidLogger. These services will monitor your child’s web usage, text messages, visited apps or websites, created photos and their real-time location. Or you could subscribe to a service like FamilyShield, which blocks adult websites and inappropriate content from being accessed over WiFi.

Sex Trafficking & Porn

  • The internet was by far the most dominant business model sex traffickers used to solicit buyers of commercial sex (used in 87.7% of sex trafficking cases active in 2018) and was also the most common method for luring victims (used in 42.5% of sex trafficking cases active in 2018). The number of cases involving Backpage dropped 18.3% from 2017, following the shutdown of Backpage in April 2018. (2018 Federal Human Trafficking Report)
  • As many as 21,000 underage children are part of the national sex trade, according to a 2016 study funded by the Justice Department
  • Per the International Labor Organization, there may be as many as 24.9 million victims of forced labor across the world. Of these, 4.8 million were in forced sexual exploitation. THE WHITE HOUSE, Office of the Press Secretary (April 11, 2018)
  • Over 99 percent of trafficked individuals trapped in forced sexual exploitation are women. THE WHITE HOUSE, Office of the Press Secretary (April 11, 2018)
  • Over 21 percent of those trafficked for sex are children. THE WHITE HOUSE, Office of the Press Secretary (April 11, 2018)
  • In FY 2017, DHS’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations (ICE/HSI) initiated 833 human trafficking cases, resulting in 1,602 arrests and 578 convictions, and identified 518 victims of human trafficking. THE WHITE HOUSE, Office of the Press Secretary (April 11, 2018)
  • Since 2007, the National Human Trafficking Hotline has received reports of 22,191 sex trafficking cases in the United States. THE WHITE HOUSE, Office of the Press Secretary (April 11, 2018)
  • Of the nearly 25,000 runaway children reports to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, one in seven were likely victims of child sex trafficking. THE WHITE HOUSE, Office of the Press Secretary (April 11, 2018)
  • The underground sex economy is a multimillion dollar industry. A 2014 Urban Institute study estimated the combined worth of the underground sex economy in Atlanta, Dallas, Denver, Kansas City, Miami, Seattle, San Diego, and Washington, D.C., to be between $39.9 and $290 million. THE WHITE HOUSE, Office of the Press Secretary (April 11, 2018)
  • Reports of suspected child sex trafficking jumped 846 percent between 2010 and 2015, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. THE WHITE HOUSE, Office of the Press Secretary (April 11, 2018)
  • Human trafficking is the fastest-growing organized crime activity in the United States, making almost $32 billion a year for traffickers while destroying the lives of tens of thousands of innocent children. Nearly 70 percent of these transactions now take place online. THE WHITE HOUSE, Office of the Press Secretary (April 11, 2018)
  • According to “The Global Coalition To End Human Trafficking Now” 10 Million child prostitutes worldwide. (The Global Coalition To End Human Trafficking Now)
  • 1 in 6 endangered runaways reported to NCMEC in 2014 where likely sex trafficking victims.  National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. (2015) Child Sex Trafficking. [Accessed 29th December 2015]
  • “Traffickers show pornography to sex trafficking victims to train them and desensitize them to the sex acts they will be forced to perform.” National Center on Sexual Exploitation. (2015) Pornography + Sex Trafficking: The Facts. [Accessed 29th December 2015]
  • “Porn users demand a constant stream of new, increasingly violent and fetishized content. In order to keep up with this demand, more women and children become prostituted and trafficked.” National Center on Sexual Exploitation. (2015) Pornography + Sex Trafficking: The Facts. [Accessed 29th December 2015]
  • The United Nations estimates that out of the more than 1.8 million children who are exploited as part of the illicit commercial sex market each year, approximately 100,000 American children are the victims of trafficking. (June 6, 2014); The Internet Pornography Pandemic: The Largest Unregulated Social Experiment in History, Donna Rice Hughes, etc 
  • It is estimated that 100,000 children in the U.S. are in danger of sexual slavery. The average age of entry into the sex trade is 14 years old. “Child Sex Trafficking At-a-Glance.” Polaris Project (2011). Sex Trafficking AAG.pdf


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