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.

 

photo credit: e³°°° via photopin cc
photo credit: Ed Yourdon via photopin cc

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