On 1 November 2017, Childline re-launched its anti-sexting app called Zipit, which uses humour to help teenagers deal with unwanted requests for sexual images of themselves.
The app re-launched by holding a Facebook Live event from Childline called ‘GIF Me A Response’. The session featured a live GIF studio presented by Apple Music’s Julie Adenuga, with Youtubers Phil Green and Niki n Sammy creating real-time responses to the audience’s unwanted sexting situations.
The Zipit app has been updated as new figures from Childline reveal the NSPCC service held 2,634 counselling sessions about sexting and self-generated explicit images in 2016/17. Sexting was also the most viewed topic on the Childline website last year, with 221,840 page views.
The effects of sexting on young people
Counsellors heard how some teenagers felt pressured by peers into sending nude selfies. Some young people were worried that images they had sent would be shared with others or uploaded on to the internet.
One 14-year-old girl told Childline:
“I sent some naked pictures of myself to a boy that I was talking to online. I really regret it now because he took screenshots and says that he’ll show them to all my friends. I don’t know how to report him, I really don’t want my family to find out.”
NSPCC Chief Executive , Peter Wanless said:
“Many young people tell Childline that they feel pressured into sending sexual images of themselves and don’t always have the confidence to say no. Once a teenager sends an image of themselves they have no control over where it is shared or who sees it, and sometimes images can end up online.
“This can leave a child feeling humiliated and even lead to them being bullied or blackmailed. By using humour Zipit helps young people take control of online chatting that becomes awkward or pressurised and support them if something goes wrong.”
Safe online chatting
Zipit, which originally launched in 2013 in partnership with creative network Livity, has been adapted to technology popular with teenagers and introduced GIFs co-created with 11- to 17-year-olds to help empower young people to defuse difficult and potentially damaging conversations.
The free app offers young people a gallery of images and animations (GIFs) they can send in response to requests for sexual pictures and to deal with difficult sexting situations.
The app also includes advice on safe online chatting and what young people should do if they feel threatened or if an image becomes public.
If a young person is worried about an image they have shared, Childline is encouraging them to visit childline.org.uk/remove and follow the steps to have the image taken down from the internet.