Consent should be a part of your interactions with others when you’re texting or using social media. Although you aren’t talking face-to-face, you should always consider how your actions might make another person feel and ask questions if you don’t know.
Just because technology connects us 24/7 doesn’t mean that your partner is always available.
Some people enjoy rapid-fire text conversations, while others only like to text to make plans.
Check in with your partner about how often you would like to text each other and what you consider a reasonable amount of time to respond.
For example, “How do you feel about texting at work? I’m cool with it, but I also have a lot of down time.”
Ask your partner how they feel about you sharing and tagging photos of them and posting about your relationship online.
Find out if they’d like to see what you’re posting first, or maybe they’re okay with you sharing without asking every time.
For example, “I love this picture from our last date. Is it OK if I post it to Instagram?”
Sexting means sending sexual photos, videos, or messages from your phone or computer.
Not everyone feels comfortable sexting, and that’s okay — there are good reasons to have concerns about sharing a private image.
It’s never okay to send unwanted sexts — even to a long-term partner.
If your partner is okay with sexting, ask them before you send anything.
For example, “I’d love to show you exactly how I’m feeling — can I send you a pic?”
Just like any other kind of sex, digital sexual interactions should feel exciting, comfortable, and safe for everyone involved.
If someone says “no” to sending a nude photo, respect their choice and move on.
Never pressure, coerce, or guilt someone to send photos — especially nude photos.
For example, “That’s cool — I can’t wait for our date on Saturday!”
If someone shares a nude photo with you, don’t share it with anyone.
Sharing intimate photos with someone they weren’t meant for is a violation of trust and could be illegal.
It can also be a crime to store or share sexual photos of someone under 18, even if you are also under 18.
I Ask How Power Impacts Consent
Consent can be complicated when one partner holds more power than the other. By being mindful of the ways power imbalances may impact consent, you can take steps to ensure your partner feels comfortable communicating their needs.
Age differences and sexual experience: An older or more sexually experienced adult may make a younger or less experienced adult feel they need to “prove” that they are mature or experienced.
Level of ability: Some adults who have physical or intellectual disabilities, older adults, or those who need assistance from a caregiver may rely on their partner in some areas of life, but their decision-making in other areas should still be respected.
Position in society: Someone may have more social privilege than their partner — through their education, job, wealth, citizenship, or other factors.
Privilege: White privilege, male privilege, and other unearned advantages are part of the power some of us bring to relationships.
The sexual consent form is a written agreement that relays in clear terms the intent of two consenting adults to participate in sexual acts together. One of the main purposes behind this agreement is to prevent rape and sexual assault or protect a person from false accusations of such crimes.
Late childhood and early adolescence is a time when children get messages about relationships and consent from TV shows, movies, social media, and friends. This makes it an ideal time for parents to have conversations about consent. Talking with your child now will encourage open and honest communication as they mature and enter their first relationships.
Teach your child that consent means always choosing to respect others’ boundaries.
Boundaries are a person’s right to choose what is comfortable for them.
For example, “It sounds like your friend didn’t want to sit beside you on the bus today. Sometimes you don’t want to sit beside me and that’s okay. Everybody gets to make choices about what’s comfortable for them.”
Teach How to Ask for Consent
Help your child to think about how their actions might make another person feel and to ask questions if they don’t know.
Everyone has different boundaries, and no one should ever feel pressured to do something that they’re uncomfortable with.