Most teenagers have been asked to take sexual images or videos of themselves and some have sent such content to total strangers, a survey suggests.
‘Sexting’, as the practice is known, is now “almost becoming the norm”, according to Peter Wanless of the NSPCC.
It worked with ChildLine to speak to 450 teenagers and found that 60 per cent of them had been asked for a sexual image or video.
According to the survey, 40 per cent said they had created such content.
Of the teens who sent sexual images by text message, 58 per cent said they had sent the material to a boyfriend or girlfriend.
A third said they had sent it to someone they knew online but had never met, while around 15 per cent said they had sent the message to a complete stranger.
One 17-year-old girl told the BBC: “Most girls of my generation do it for attention, to try and find love out of it, but it usually is the wrong way.”
Peter Liver, from ChildLine, said that being exposed to pornography may spark young people into sending such messages.
He commented: “The sharing of these images do not necessarily happen in isolation – it can be related to other online issues such as cyber-bullying and draw from influences such as celebrity and easy access of online pornography.”
Earlier this year the NSPCC said children playing out on the street or in the local park are safer than those surfing the internet.
Sexting and cyberbullying via the internet or mobile phones have become the new emerging threat, replacing the traditional “stranger danger”, the report said.
Lisa Hawker, who authored the report, said: “The changing nature of the way we live our lives means that actually your chances of meeting someone who can harm you is now much greater through the internet or your mobile phone than through a stranger you might come across in the street or the local park.”