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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Why Are Smartphones Good for Teens?

Have you gone to a restaurant lately? It seems that every table has a hand full of people who can’t detach themselves from cell phones or tablets.

We live in this uber-connected world, but not in real life. So why on earthy would parents want to buy their teenagers smartphones that give them even more reason to detach?small_8744409918

Just like parents thought almost 20 years ago when computers started entering the homes, kids/teens don’t NEED these things. But is that true?

Maybe for now, but if you consider how computers in the home have grown, and their attachment to education, you can easily see that smartphones and/or tablets won’t be far behind. To start with, today it’s beneficial for teens and kids to have smartphones, but how?

Look up facts? Remember when we had to go to the library for hours a week just to work on a school project?

A smartphone lets our kids have the entire world of knowledge right in the palm of their hands, just about any fact they want to look up is available, in seconds. There’s no reason for them to skimp out on school work because they have entire libraries on their phones.

Stay in touch with YOU. No matter where your child is, they should be able to call you, and you them. That’s one of the major benefits of a smartphone.

Reception with a smartphone is so good that it should work just about anywhere, as long as the battery isn’t dead. There isn’t much of an excuse to miss your call, or at the very least return it immediately.

Safety Sakes- It’s a fact the world has changed a LOT in the past 30-ish years alone. As kids you probably ran down the street to your friend’s house and were pretty safe.

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It was a much more interconnected world, where neighbors actually spoke to one another and watched each others’ kids. It isn’t like that anymore, people are so focused on what they are doing they don’t have time to watch out for anyone else.

But with a cell phone your child can call 911 from anywhere, making them a bit more safe in the world.

Where Is My Child?- A major difference between cell phones and smartphones is the ability to track with GPS.

Kidtrack offers this feature, and there are other programs that once installed as apps will allow you to see approximately where your child is in the world based on their phone’s GPS. Are they driving around with friends, going to parties they shouldn’t be at? -Now you can find out.

Digital Footprints- A smartphone allows you as a parent to see more of what your child is doing, who they are talking to, and what they are saying.

While for some that might be a privacy issue, for others it is imperative to understand teenage depression, bad behavior, etc. The KidTrack Mobile program even allows you to target certain words they mention in text conversation.

School Scheduling/ Homework Lists- Most schools provide students with planners that help them keep track of assignments, but nothing like a smartphone. With a smartphone they can take typed and recorded notes, keep track of assignments and schedules, and plan their calendars.

As parents we can either give our children smartphones and teach them how to use them responsibly, or we can continue arguing with them until they can afford to buy them. But, at some point our kids and teens will have smartphones and thankfully there are many benefits that make them a worthy investment.

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5 Guidelines To Help You Monitor Your Child’s Online Safety

Your teen has probably told you many times “It’s none of your business!” but is that really true? At some point parents need to let go of their children and let them have their privacy. But when is that time?

This question has been plaguing parents for the last couple of decades as mainstream devices make it easier for children to have conversations, meet people and do things they know they shouldn’t. At what point should you, as a parent, step in? These suggestions should help guide you through deciding.small_749317332

Age– There is no definitive age that says a parent needs to monitor what a child is doing because every child is different at different ages and every household has their own acceptable standards for behavior.

But based on your child’s age you should be able to decide if they are old enough to participate in certain activities.

For instance, Facebook’s terms of service suggest no child under 13 may have an account without parental permission. That doesn’t mean that once a child reaches 13 they should be able to have an account, nor does it mean that at 9 they aren’t responsible enough.

Ages are guidelines, and in your family, you should come up with appropriate ages for different activities.

Privacy– Texting is a fairly private conversation between two people, and while it should be monitored for the context of the conversation, it’s more acceptable for a 10 year old to text his best friend about video games, than to use social media accounts to do the same thing.

Social media is easily accessible by thousands of people, or fewer under the appropriate settings, while texting involves two phone numbers no one else (ie: the public) can not access.

Maturity– Two 13 year old teens can be miles apart when it comes to maturity. Their gender, life experience, exposure to different topics, and social skills all play a role in how mature they are at certain ages.

In a lot of families the oldest is the most mature, not simply because of age, but because of years of needing to set the example.

Your Knowledge– Do you have social media accounts, smart phones, a laptop, or a tablet? When your child has devices and accounts that you don’t, you most likely can’t fathom the trouble children and teens can get themselves into if you aren’t active on the same devices and websites they are.small_8553474140

In those cases, it’s a good idea to do some research to find out privacy settings, monitoring tools, and other options to keep kids safe.

School– Another important place that has, or may have, a say in what your child does is school. Most schools have rules in place that students need to follow to keep their phones and tablets in class. As a parent it is your responsibility to make sure they understand these rules and follow them.

On top of their own devices, schools have computers that students access and there are privacy settings you should probably understand about what kids can access, what information of the student’s other people can access, and what responsibilities your child has when using the computers and internet.

40 years ago it wasn’t a major concern what your child was writing in their diary or journal, whatbooks they could access from school, etc. But today millions of people have access to your child, if they have an online profile of any kind, and that is something parents really need to consider before coming up with rules for their kids to use certain devices and websites.

Take the time to sit down with your family and think about how each of these things affect your kids, their privacy and most importantly their safey.
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