Do you know if your kid is sexting? Before you answer, you may want to read further. I recommend not getting upset, not panicking and most importantly acting in a rational manner when you plan to sit down with your son or daughter.
It seems like it is getting harder and harder to keep our kids safe, and we have to stay on guard every minute of every day as parents. To protect our children from the dangers of technology, we have to stop hiding our heads in the sand and realize our children are still children. They still need our guidance regardless if they think we are just a bunch of meanies.
Kids may not aware of the dangers of sexting, they see it as something everyone is doing, and they do not understand that possession of sexually explicit underage images is against the law. Additionally, the incident could become part of their permanent record and haunt them the rest of their lives by being listed on the sex offender’s registry.
Sexting is not new, but the participants are getting younger. According to Generation Smartphone: A Guide for Parents of Tweens + Teens Presented by Lookout, 77% of teens 12-17 own a cell phone, and 56% of parents of kids 8-12 say their children own mobile phones. The report also notes that 28% of teens confessed to sending inappropriate pictures to someone via their cell phone.
So what is sexting? Simply stated it is the act of sending nude images or images of sexually explicit acts from one person to another through text messaging on a mobile device. Often the images are intended to be private between two people, but when something goes wrong, the images get passed from one person to another and can easy spread around the Internet.
The result of the exposing of images leads to humiliation, cyber bullying, revenge, or worse and will often take a mental toll on the targeted individual or individuals.
As parents we can help educate our children to the dangers of such behavior, it’s not going to be an easy conversation, but it is a conversation you must have no matter how uncomfortable you feel.
Not only is it a problem that parents have to face, but also a problem that school administrators need to be prepared to handle. School boards need to consider acceptable use policies for school owned devices, inappropriate reporting policies and a policies/procedures for responding to a sexting incident.
What can you do as a parent?
- Become an educated parent
- Explain the dangers of sexting
- Talk about self-worth and trust
- Discuss criminal implications
- Explain long-term implications
- Establish a mobile device user contract
In my opinion, the use of a smartphone phone by a child/teen is a privilege and not a right, and with the privilege comes rules that they must follow. Before sitting down with your son or daughter, take a look are some of the following resources.
Kids Pointz – Sexting Is Dangerous
iKeepsafe – Whats wrong with sexting?
American Academy of Pediatrics – Talking To Kids About Social Media & Sexting
The Huffington Post – Caught Your Kid Sexting
Generation Smartphone: A Guide for Parents of Tweens + Teens Presented by Lookout
Internet Safety 101 – Sexting
When I look back at being a kid I don’t recall things being so complicated, I found ways to get into trouble and drive my parents crazy, but who didn’t? Today, it just seems easier for kids to get in over their heads and technology is making it even easier. The question is how do we protect our children in the world that is changing faster than we can sometimes comprehend
By the way do you know what your employees are doing? Just because they are consenting adults doesn’t mean they know better.