14-18 year olds

This age group are usually very active users of the internet, and see it as an integral part of their everyday lives. The internet and technology is inbuilt into many of their social interactions, information gathering and presentation of their self to the wider world. Much of their communication with loved ones, submitting school work, applications for courses or jobs happens mostly online. They will likely be highly independent internet users, and may view any adult supervision as an invasion of their privacy. They will often have their own device, or for some young people, more than one (e.g. a phone, a laptop, a games console.)

  • Developmental factors Open or Close

    As they transition from childhood to adulthood, developmental factors can bring a tendency to seek new sensations, take risks and explore their emerging sexuality, while their vulnerability to peer pressure and possible lack of understanding of sex and relationship can place them at greater risk of engaging in sexting.

  • Exploring relationships Open or Close

    This age group may also be engaging in what they feel to be fairly serious relationships, and may be exploring different behaviours within these relationships. They may be feeling a pressure to look or act a certain way, for example, to appear sexually desirable or sexually active, or to share intimate images with their partners. This pressure can also come from their online experiences, for example, pressure to post images of themselves they feel look attractive or ‘cool,’ pressure to post content about their relationships or to appear to ‘prove’ their sexual experience, whether actual or imagined.

    They may also feel that the online world allows them to explore their sexuality in ways they may not feel comfortable with in the offline world.

When it comes to supporting young people aged 14-18 with the pressure to take or send nude images, we need to help them develop a strong self of self-esteem and respect for others, to empower them to recognise peer pressure or unhealthy relationships and to build strategies to be able to make sensible choices online.

6 top tips for supporting children aged 14-18 online:  

  1. Discuss the pressures: The creation of nude or partially nude content can often be due to pressure from a partner or peer. Young people may also feel a pressure to request nude images, or send on other people’s, in order to feel accepted, or part of a particular friendship group. Discussing peer pressure, healthy relationships and self-esteem with your child is a positive way to help them recognise unhealthy relationships or friendships and seek further support if they need to. Resisting pressure from others to engage in activities they are uncomfortable with, or know to be against the law can be a challenge, but one that can be overcome with the knowledge they have the support of parents/carers.
  2. Discuss consent and respect online: To share on any content belonging to another person without asking them first can damage relationships and hurt people's feelings. This is especially true of nude or nearly nude images. Talk to your child about online etiquette, and the different types of things that permission is needed for. If young people are ever unsure whether they have someone's consent or not, the crucial thing to remember is to ask.
  3. 'Think before you post' : Talking to your child about online privacy, and sharing content, is absolutely vital. Once any image has been sent, it can be difficult to remain in control of it. Even if you think you can trust the person that you've sent it to, it could be shared with others or posted elsewhere online.
  4. Discuss the potential consequences: Taking, sharing and having possession of nude or sexually explicit images of under-18s is illegal, even for those who take such images of themselves. Whilst the police take a common sense approach, and do not want to unnecessarily criminalise young people, if these images are shared with malicious intent, or is a repeat occurrence, they may take more serious action. 
  5. Transitioning from childhood to adulthood: Young people at this age may be in a relationship with someone over the age of 18. As an adult in the eyes of the law, this person could face more serious legal consequences if they took, shared or had possession of intimate images of their younger partner. This image would remain an indecent image of a child even after the young person has turned 18 as the law takes into account the age of the child in the image at the time. Aside from the law, there can also be other consequences . For young people who have their nude image ‘leaked’, it can be particularly hurtful and painful to recover from, and have a negative impact on their mental health, self-esteem and relationships.
  6. Discuss who can they talk to: If you and your child can have an ongoing open dialogue about their life online, whilst still allowing them the level of privacy with which you are comfortable, they will be more likely to seek advice from you if they find themselves in a difficult situation. Reassure them it is never too late to seek help, regardless of what they might have done, or how long it's been going on for. It's important that young people know where else they can turn to for support, whether this is a trusted teacher or school or by contacting a helpline. Visit our 'Need help?' page for young people for further advice, support and suggested helplines.


Conversation starter ideas:

A simple and effective way to get involved in your child’s online life is through discussion - an open dialogue is the best way to help your child access the amazing resources the internet has to offer whilst keeping them safe online.

  1. What sorts of online behaviours do you think are okay/not okay or expected/unacceptable as part of a healthy relationship?
  2. How much do you think young people are influenced by the types of images they see vloggers/influencers/celebrities posting online?
  3. What could you do if you thought someone was being pressured to share images they were uncomfortable with?
  4. How could you resist the pressure to share a nude image and say 'no'?
  5. What could you do to help someone who had a nude photo of themselves shared online?
  6. Who can you go to if you are worried about something online?
  7. When might someone need to go to an adult for help?


Online Safety resources for 14-18s:

Why not visit our sexting hot topic for young people. Sending nudes can sometimes play a part in online sexual harassment. Watch our 'Step Up, Speak Up films below to find out more. 

For advice about moving forward after an image has been shared then visit The UK Safer Internet Centre's 'So you got naked online' guide.