What is sexting?
It is when two or more people send sexually explicit text messages that may or may not include full or partially nude photos. Many teens these days feel that it is not much of a big deal however there are actually serious consequences that might occur.
Sexing is damaging be it whichever gender you are in. It can be sent voluntarily or when one is under the pressure. Most of the time, they just want the feeling of excitement and further explore their sexual curiosities. This can also highly lead up to addiction to pornography and relationship failures.
Moreover, sending an inappropriate picture of a minor (usually under the age of 18) is illegal and will be considered child pornography. Many adolescents have faced charges for sharing nude pictures of themselves. Thus, one of the consequences of sexting is that they can be placed on the sex offender registries for sharing such photos.
However, there are cases where teens believe that a promise had been made and those nude pictures will be kept confidential. However, after a break up there is no longer a guarantee. There might be situations and occasions where they seek revenge by sharing or posting it online. This is a form of cyberbullying as well. What’s scary is that once it is online, we are no longer able to control who sees it and who doesn’t. In the most dangerous case, teens might feel so humiliated and overwhelmed that they choose to take their own lives.
How can we as parents help our kids?
Firstly, you can start by monitoring the technology usage of your child. Eventually, they have to learn what it means to have self-control and self-monitoring. As of now, your child might still be developing and is not yet ready to handle the dangers that technology poses. Technology can be addictive, thus we should be careful when it comes to sexual imagery or pornography.
Secondly, the best approach to sexting is to prevent it.
Here are some tips you can follow to minimize the risks of sexting:
- Have a talk – Create conversations about the beauty of sex as God created it. Emphasise to your child that they are worthy of respect and their body should not be treated lightly but with respect as well.
- Being Open – Discuss the topic of sexting without pressuring your child or making them feel uncomfortable. Approach it in a way they can treat you as their friend. Afterwards, you can ask if he or she knows anyone in school that is sexting. And what are their thoughts on it, how they feel about it. Be sure to let them know the possible consequences.
- Legal Realities – Be sure to let your child knows there are legal actions and consequences for sharing sexually explicit photos of a minor.
- The Safe Zone – Let your child know and feel that it’s safe for her to confide in you if she ever has made a mistake in this area. The fear of an explosive reaction will never inspire a child to be open.
- True Freedom – Remind your child that freedom is found in being trustworthy. Therefore, all electronic devices will be open to your eyes at any time. You may also consider installing software on your child’s devices to help monitor and limit their activity.
What if my child is involved? What do I do?
- Be calm and let your child know about the potential legal and personal consequences of sexting. Your teen likely knows she did something she shouldn’t have. Thus, it is important to end your conversation being genuine remorse, learning and relationship building and maturing.
- Block the numbers of anyone who has shared explicit messages with your child.
- Ask who your child has shared photos with. You may need to speak with the other teens’ parents to prevent sensitive pictures from being spread.
- Emphasize the need to rebuild trust. You may want to take away her phone forever and ground her until college. But regardless, your child has to understand that trust was broken and needs to be re-established.
Ways that you can approach this:
Be a noticer
- Despite pressures to participate in sexting, how could the consequences of sexting hurt you far into your future?
- Do you think the person asking for nude selfies really cares about the sender of the images? Why or why not?
- Have you ever seen any sexting messages or know anybody who regularly sexts?
Be a builder
- How can you be compassionate toward friends that have sent sexual texts? What advice would you give them if they would listen to you?
- How would you feel if other members of our family suddenly had naked pictures of themselves posted online or saved on someone else’s phone?
Be a connector
- What would you do if someone asked you to send them a naked selfie? What would you tell a friend who felt pressure to sext?
- Why is it important for us to have an “open for review” policy for technology in the home? How can you encourage your friends to do the same in their homes? How can you enlist help from parents?
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