How to talk to teenagers about the dangers of sharing nudes

A cyber security expert says if parents want their teenagers to be safe online, they need to ensure they can talk to them about uncomfortable topics.

Netsafe chief executive Martin Cocker told The AM Show four out of 10 teenagers know someone who has shared nude pictures or videos - and if those images are shared widely, it can cause a great deal of distress.

"Typically teenagers are sending these pictures to each other - a friend, or someone they're in a relationship with," Cocker said on Monday.

"The initial sharing is usually consensual and doesn't cause harm but it's sharing it which causes distress."

Netsafe research revealed three in 10 teenagers had received content they didn't request. 

Between May 2020 and April 2021, 66.6 percent of reports categorised as image-based sexual abuse were made by females. 

Reports from under 21-year-olds made up 44.4 percent of reports - and Cocker says this could be because teenagers are not being taught how to be responsible with their devices. 

"Young people have this device in their hand capable of sharing all kinds of information. We're asking them to make good decisions about that but we're not having serious conversations with them about what they're doing."

He says teenagers are capable of being responsible and mature about the content they're sharing - but it's the responsibility of the adults in their lives to give them the tools to do so.

"Young people say all the time, 'We want to have conversations with people who do understand' - so be a person who understands, and who they want to have that conversation with."