Sexting- Mom & Dad It’s Your Responsibility

In a recent post on The Wallstreet Journal the author discussed sexting among teens. Specifically the article wrote about the increased incidents as many school children and most teenagers have their own phones, computers or tablets.

 

sexting can be a significant smart phone problem with teens

Sexting is a real issue among teens and according to the article, parents are the ones to blame- not the teens. It’s easy to overlook sexting as a parent, we tend to think our children are smart enough not to engage in this behavior because we would like to think we’ve raised them better.

 

The problem is we disregard peer pressure which has a very real hand in getting teens to do this. It’s often between a couple where one encourages the others saying parents won’t ever know. Come on, just do it, one says to the other.

 

Consequences of Sexting

But parents should know better, they need to know better, they need to have an idea of what is going on with their teenagers because this behavior can have real repercussions for their child’s future.

 

For instance, in a recent television special several young women came forward to discuss how their intimate pictures with previous partners were being shared on websites as pay back for break ups. These images are available publicly and anyone can access them, including potential employers.

 

There are laws that prevent underage images from being shown online, but there is always a risk because teen pics may look very similar to young adults.

 

Aside from website postings, sexting between two individuals can easily get out of hand by texts being forwarded to friends who send them on even further. Once a digital piece of information or a photo is released it can easily end up anywhere. Google or other search engines can then find these images and additional information that was shared then phone numbers and names are easily attached to the image.

 

Down the road potential employers will join the thousands of others who already search for a person’s name before hiring them. Your child certainly doesn’t want to show up as a result like this. It’s easy to see how quickly a simple text or photo message can get out of hand.

 

A Parent’s Responsibility- Not A Child’s

problems about teenage sexting needs to be discussed between parent and child

Parents have the ability to monitor their childrens’ and teens’ digital devices for this type of behavior. With software options like KidTrack a parent can keep track of the text messages and photos being sent from their teen’s phone. Additionally parent can get alerts when specified keywords are found on the phone.

 

Having access to monitoring software doesn’t take away all need for parental monitoring, parents will have to specify the potential keywords that may lead to sexting, not simply look for when it happens as that is when the real damage occurs.

 

The Talk

A good time to have a discussion with your kids about sexting is long before it would occur. For instance, long before they ever have a boyfriend or girlfriend you should discuss the consequences. A follow up chat should be had when dating begins. There is no reason not to bring it up when you hear a story or news episode that discusses it.

 

In addition to simply telling your children not to do it, you should help them figure out how to move the conversation past it. It’s more difficult for your child to tell their friend no than it is to not listen to you, so it’s important to give them a way out of the situation.

 

A few pointers on helping them change the conversation:

  • Having them tell their friends their parents monitor their phone (even if you don’t) and they will see every picture they send or receive (even on SnapChat). Tell them the phone sends screenshots.
  • Tell their friend you just asked to use their phone.
  • Tell their friend they had another friend that did that and ended up getting into a lot of trouble.

 

Summary

It is up to the parent to protect their child and make sure they are acting appropriately. Parents need to take the driver’s seat and cover all of their bases with the digital world. If you need help, ask questions below and we will do our best to give you some guidance.

 

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Helping Your Child Understand Family Safety In A Digital World

When you give your child their first cell phone or laptop, a major concern is their safety. This makes sense because they will probably use the device on a regular basis. And as kids are, there is a good chance they’ll share information they shouldn’t with people they do not completely know.

 

helping children understand the dangers of cell phone usage can create a loving bond between parent and child

What we hardly think about is family safety (in regards to cell safety). Not only does the child have their own safety at risk when they share too much information, but they put the entire family at risk.

 

We go out of our way to list out things they shouldn’t mention to strangers or in public places, but have we covered all of our safety bases?

 

Probably not, which is why it’s time to revisit the whole discussion about online safety with your children, teens and even young adults.

 

They already know the rules you’ve mentioned before about not using location names, people’s last names, etc. Now it’s time to consider adding some of the following guidelines to the digital family safety talk:

 

Descriptions of brothers, sisters, family names, etc. Scammers, hackers and other criminals are supremely intelligent, they can piece together the smallest pieces of information to quickly come to conclusions about where we live, where we’ll be at a certain time, or even when we won’t be home.

 

For instance, a young girl discussing her brother’s football game on Friday night and how the whole family goes, can easily give enough information to anyone looking to rob a home.

 

Details. While we have covered this before, it’s important to revisit this again, because the danger is in the details. All messages should be vague. Conversations over text could easily be done over a service such as SnapChat to save yourself from worry. We do not recommend using this application, but if you also use the Kidtrack™ Mobile app, you can set up alerts for words you do not want used on this kind of application so that you can be warned about its misuse. Kidtrack™ will also monitor and display images that have been sent as well as whether this application has been used at what time and for how long.

 

SnapChat is a service that allows one user to send messages or pictures to another. As soon as the receiving party gets the message and reads it, it self destructs. You’ll no longer have to worry about your child’s friend keeping copies of their conversations on a phone they lose. We do NOT recommend the use of Snapchat. See our post about Sexting.

 

Use Passwords. Along with being extra careful about details that help identify your family members, a cell phone is the ultimate place to get all of the information necessary to steal identities, max charges, make obscene phone calls and more. Your child’s phone should have a security password in place, along with software that makes it easy for you to locate it when it is lost.

 

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While this will make it difficult for a parent to ‘hack’ into their child or teen’s phone, this is a safety measure that affects the entire family and really is the best for everyone.

 

Stronger Passwords. Even when you’ve told your child everything you can about online safety details will slip through the cracks. It happens, but there is another line of defense; stronger passwords.

 

A study was done in 2013 that showed that up to 10% of passwords on teens’ phones included the word love. Obviously this makes hacking into a phone much easier.

 

By teaching your child about passwords that are less easy to guess and more advanced we give them another tool to keep us all safe.

 

On many sites you now have to use a password with 8 characters including a capital, lowercase, number and even a symbol. It’s hard enough for us to remember these passwords but they are much more difficult to crack for other people.

 

Clean Out Their Phones. When it’s time to get a new phone make sure you clean out their phone and reset it to factory settings. Even then there may be other options you can use to make sure all personal data is thoroughly erased. Be sure to search for their phone model on Google to learn what you need to know about erasing data.

 

The world is a scary place and it’s difficult to keep our kids safe now more than ever. Sit down and talk to them to make sure they understand how these things happen to people just like you.

 

Remind them often to stay safe online and off. And in the mean time if you have tips for other parents about family safety leave them in the comments, we’d love to hear from you.

 

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5 Tips for Talking to Your Children About Digital Safety

Technology is amazing. It allows us to connect with people like never before, and gives us new, easy ways to go through life.

If you need a recipe for dinner- load up your iPhone, if you need directions to a new store, you can wait until you are in the car and then simply speak the address. No more searching, printing, filing, and finding papers- it’s all right at your finger tips.
Parents need help monitoring a child's cell hone use because the potential dangers of their connection to the Internet
The same holds true for kids. This morning my son asked me how long a killer whale was, and I showed him how to look that up on Google.

But we’ve had the ‘talk’ before about being safe and responsible on computers, ipods, smartphones, and tablets, the problem is, a lot of people haven’t. They simply don’t know what to say, and how to say it.

Here are 5 tips that should help you have the ‘talk’ about digital safety:

Make It Age Appropriate– There is no reason to terrify a child of 8 years old who is using a highly private Facebook account. Similarly a 17 year old needs to completely understand what the risks are, and why she needs to be careful, sugar coating it for her/him does nothing to teach them the real world issues at hand.

Describe what can happen– Research some news articles about things that have happened in your state, in small cities, and to kids around the same age as your own. Explain to them how these kids have families just like yours, and discuss how people would react in your family if the same thing happened in your home.

Discuss specific information that is and isn’t acceptable– Kids and teens may respond more easily to specific information. For instance, it’s OK to use first names when talking about people, but it isn’t OK to name stores, streets, etc when discussing plans and locations. You might want to print out a list, like the following:protect your child while using a cell phone by installing Kidtrack the premier cell phone tracking service

Not OK to share on social media and text:

  • Locations
  • Last names of anyone
  • Phone numbers
  • Addresses

How to share this information besides social and text- email, phone calls, in person.

Teach Them How to Deal With People They Do Not Know– Someone is going to private message or text your child at some point, that doesn’t even know them. It’s bound to happen, as you’ve probably gotten messages like these yourself.

This could be a predator, or it could be another student in their grade they don’t remember. It isn’t a good idea to teach them to immediately assume the worse, but to be careful.

Certain messages will warrant deletion and banning of the other person’s account. For instance, anyone looking to date, someone who mentions finding your profile and wanting to get to know you, etc.

Another student would most likely say they are a student at the same school, and as that is much easier to verify (and should be verified) so this is acceptable.

About meeting someone you’ve met online– This is most likely going to be a no-no, but you have to discuss it, because it will come up and you want to be part of the meeting/conversation.

Your teen is going to come across someone they haven’t met before and strike up conversation. Eventually they might want to meet one of these people, and they should always discuss this with you. You can put certain guidelines in place, such as letting you meet the person, the meeting being in public, etc.

Having the ‘talk’ about digital safety with your kids/teens doesn’t have to be difficult. Be honest with them and then follow up with a parental tracking program like Kidtrack to ensure their safety and make sure they stick to the guidelines you’ve taught them.

If you’ve already had the talk with them, what do you recommend for other parents who are getting ready to introduce their kids to a more social world with digital products?
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