Parents should learn sexting slang, says expert

2013-10-16 11:25
An expert has advised parents to check children's smartphones for evidence of sexting images. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

An expert has advised parents to check children's smartphones for evidence of sexting images. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Cape Town - It is critical that parents are familiar with the common terms associated with sexting, a researcher has said.

"Parents should also be made aware of the different words that are used within the sexting context. It is of no use if parents have access to the mobile device but do not know what to look for," Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) senior technology researcher Aubrey Labuschagne told News24.

Some common phrases include terms like "8" which means oral sex, "cu46" (see you for sex), "NIFOC" (naked in front of the computer) and "PAW" (parent are watching).

Teens who have unchecked access to smart devices are at risk of being exposed to sexting which has been linked to bullying online.

Typically, a perpetrator has a relationship of trust with the victim and the strategy to blackmail the victim into sending a number of pornographic images is often used.

Common scams

Labuschagne warned parents to investigate the cellphones of young people with a view to discover whether there is evidence that the child may be involved in sexting or cyber bullying.

"The risk is too high with the new capabilities of mobile devices as well as the current threat to leave the well being of the children to chance and not to be involved. A possible route is to look to have full access to the child’s mobile device at random times (spot check). This is a two way trust relationship and is used to build trust."

There are common scams to get teens to send nude or sexually provocative pictures of themselves to strangers.

Criminals may pose are model agents and prime a naïve victim into sending images in the hopes of "making it big", or for the promise of financial reward.

Despite warning that parents should keep tabs on their children's online habits, Labuschagne conceded that kids were adept at ensuring that any evidence could be removed from the cellphone or internet history.

"Teens (children) are cleverer than what parents think. They learn very quickly how to use the applications on these devices but also how to remove traces of content which could get them into trouble," he said.

According to the Films and Publications Act, anyone found in possession of child pornography may be charged, irrespective of how that material came to be in their possession.


The only exception for criminal prosecution is when the image has been saved with the purpose of reporting it to the police.

Some children are blackmailed into sending provocative pictures of themselves to perpetrators who may threaten to expose some embarrassing behaviour to parents or teachers.

Labuschagne said that it was difficult for children who may not have adult coping skills to extricate themselves from the grip of such practices.

"Once a criminal gets a 'foot into the door', the original pictures can be used to get more pictures or even more provocative pictures by using blackmail."

- Follow Duncan on Twitter
Read more on:    csir  |  online privacy  |  cybercrime
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