Young people sent links to porn sites on social media

The row which Jose Costa got into started on social media, Ipswich Crown Court heard. Picture: GETTY

The row which Jose Costa got into started on social media, Ipswich Crown Court heard. Picture: GETTY IMAGES - Credit: Getty Images

Social media can cause anxiety and exacerbate existing mental health issues, say young people from Ipswich who are sent links to porn and scams.

Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Snapchat are all popular apps with young people who want to stay connected - particularly during the pandemic - with their friends and peers.

But do parents really know what their children are talking about, and seeing, on these apps?

We asked four teenagers from the Ipswich area to share their experiences and they told us they are constantly sent links to porn sites or added by bots that try to send "very sexual content".

One 17-year-old from Ipswich said that bots – automated accounts run by software – try to add him on his social media.  

Hundreds of children were dealt with by police for sexting in the last four years Picture: GETTY/IS

Hundreds of children were dealt with by police for sexting in the last four years Picture: GETTY/ISTOCKPHOTO - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

He said: “The people that try to add me are from fake accounts. I just block them and report them as spam or sexual content – that’s what all of them are that try to add me. 

“They use a randomly generated name, they’re all single and they want you to send them pictures of very sexual content,” he added. 

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The theme of fake accounts was common among the young people. Another young person, a 16-year-old from Ipswich, said that he has been added to group chats with multiple strangers. 

He said: “I get added to group chats by bots. About 20 people are added to a group chat and there will be a link to a porn site which is probably a scam.  

"I just deal with it myself. I wouldn’t say anyone is really bothered,” he added. 

However, another teenager, also 16, said the affect social media has on his mental health is much more concerning to him. 

“Mental health wise, it’s hard being on social media. I’m a pretty anxious person,” he said.  

Sofa surfing is a growing issue, Ipswich CAB bosses said Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto/ANTONIOGU

Sofa surfing is a growing issue, Ipswich CAB bosses said Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto/ANTONIOGUILLEM - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

“I can go into a slump really fast just from tiny things like people not answering my messages. I can get completely freaked out,” he added. 

People being able to say whatever they wish on social media also has an effect on those that come across it, says a 21-year-old from Debenham. She says free speech on social media can influence other young people and harm those directly affected by the comment. 

“The worst part of my Facebook feed is probably my village Facebook page where people can rant, stereotype and put out there anything that makes them angry. It’s an outlet for them.  

“I’ve read some racist comments, some ageist comments, and probably sexist comments. This all happens within an organised group where people have to go through a procedure to be added. These aren’t robots – they're genuine people who have a platform to say what they wouldn’t usually say face-to-face,” she added. 

Young people and youth problems. Preteen girl left alone at home, sends text messages with phone to

Young people and youth problems. Preteen girl left alone at home, sends text messages with phone to friends. Concept of potential victim of cyber bulling and absence of parental control. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

She believes page admins need to be quicker at taking posts down to protect those most vulnerable.

However, another young person thinks that reporting the problem does not do enough to help young people.  

He said: “Everyone knows how to report. It’s quite easy to do, but the problem isn’t being solved. Many young people think to report it but nothing will happen. 

“With social media, there isn’t really a boundary with what you can post. It’s free for anyone to post whatever they want and you don’t really have control over what you see."  

He added: “It’s things you wouldn’t talk about in person, so why is it going out on social media?” 

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