by Rachael Bell
ChildLine have recently launched its first app to combat the pressures of sending sexually explicit images or videos. Zipit is a free app that offers users advice and witty images instead of explicit ones. It’s designed to discourage young people sharing explicit texts, videos or images.
The app responds to a ChildLine survey of 13-18 year olds revealing that a quarter of them have sent a sexually explicit image of themselves to someone else. In contrast, over half of the young people surveyed said they had received a sexual photo or video. In most of these cases young people said the images went to a boyfriend or girlfriend, a third said they went to someone they met online and 15% said they went to a total stranger.
Peter Liver, Director of ChildLine Services, said: “ChildLine are proud to be launching our first app for young people. We hope ‘Zipit’ will give them the tools to defuse the pressure to send, share or collect these images. We understand that young people may continue to take and send explicit images but we want them to know that ChildLine is here any time to offer non-judgmental support and advice.”
The survey also revealed that fewer young people are calling ChildLine to talk about issues. Most said they would approach a friend if they needed help. Only 17% would speak to their parents.
One 17 year old said: “Sexting is pretty normal at my age. My friends and I talk very openly about our experiences within our relationships, and the sort of things we’ve sent each other. It seems like everyone’s doing it.”
Zipit was developed in collaboration with young people from the NSPCC, Young Stonewall, and Livity. It is aimed at young people ages 14 and over. The app launched earlier this month and is available free at Google Play, Blackberry, and the App Store.