24th October 2013
The children's counselling service charity ChildLine has launched a free smartphone app to help teenagers refuse requests for 'sexting' (the practice of texting explicit images or videos of themselves to others).
The launch of Zipit comes in response to a massive increase in the practice, which the charity claims is now commonplace. In a recent survey of 450 teenagers it carried out jointly with the NSPCC, six out of 10 said they had been asked to send sexual images of themselves – a figure which ChildLine says reflects other studies. The same proportion of 12 to 15 year-olds are also thought to own a smartphone.
The app offers users a choice of "witty responses" to send instead of sexually explicit images. It also offers advice on how to chat online safely, and what to do if youngsters feel threatened or if an image becomes public.. As you can see from the picture, it is available for iPhone/iPad, Android phones and BlackBerry.
ChildLine's Peter Liver told the BBC: "We hope Zipit will give [young people] the tools to defuse the pressure to send, share or collect these images."
ChildLine has also teamed up with the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) to help young people to get explicit images of themselves taken off the internet.
The launch comes shortly after the launch of another app which enables users to retain images sent via SnapChat, a photo sharing app based on images sent automatically disappearing after a few seconds. This received widespread interest and was reported on Get Safe Online last week.