The online world gives you a seemingly limitless library of information, endless opportunities to connect with others, and all sorts of entertainment options. And when it comes to your sex life, it can also get you into trouble.

Your cell phone, IM, and social networks are all a digital extension of who you are. When someone pressures you or disrespects you in those places, that's not cool.

Here are some things to think about before you upload that photo to your blog or press the send button.

  • What's sexting?

    Sexting is using cell phones to send sexy text messages or images — often of oneself. Sexting, uploading sexy pictures, and writing sexy posts online or in an e-mail may seem innocent enough, but they all actually have serious risks.

  • How can I keep my messages private?

    You can't. There’s no such thing as sharing information only with a select group of friends online. Anyone can forward the information to others outside the group. It’s also easy to track down people through screen names, e-mail addresses, and other online profile information. And because it’s so easy for people to disguise who they are on social networking sites and on e-mail, you don’t always know who you’re really interacting with. So never post or send anything you wouldn’t want the whole world to see.

  • What else do I need to know about technology and my privacy?

    • Be careful with humor. Even if you think it’s obvious that you’re just kidding, not everyone will get the joke. If you want to post or send something that’s meant to be playful — especially something sexy — make that clear in your message. 
    • Be yourself. Your best friend thinks it would be fun to post naked pictures of yourselves? Your boyfriend wants you to “sext” him? If you don’t feel comfortable with it, don’t do it. Also be aware that, in many places, it’s illegal to send nude or semi-nude pictures of minors — even if you’re a minor. Teens have been convicted and jailed for sexting. It can have very serious consequences. 
    • It’s permanent and easily shared. You had second thoughts about that sexy photo you posted, so you deleted it. But someone else already copied it and posted it to another site. And someone else downloaded it and texted it to a friend. And somehow, it landed in your teacher’s — or your mom’s — inbox. Once something is out in the online world, it’s never just a question of hitting “delete” to get rid of it. 
 
 
 
 
By Jamie Rivera 01/20/2011 12:54:00

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