Sexting: What is it and Should I Be Concerned
Sexting - Common Between Teens
Sexting - Naked Photo Sharing
Do you have a teen or teens?
Do they have a cell phone?
A cell phone with a camera?
Do they love to text? Do they have a MySpace or a Facebook account?
If you answered yes to any or all of these questions; BEWARE!!!
In this new day and age there are many things that we as parents should be aware of. Most are familiar with the horrors of the computer age. There are the online predators that we try and protect our children from, keeping an eye on their MySpace and Facebook accounts so that they do not give out too much information. There are the pornography sites that come out of nowhere, even when you are trying to help your second grader find information on crawdads. Pornography is like those dastardly weeds in your garden, easy to find and hard to control. With so much information and the world at your fingertips there is a great deal that can happen on the world wide web especially since there is not a great deal of policing of the Internet going on. Add to that the cell phone with cameras which almost every teen has and it can spell disaster. With cell phones and computers it has become seamless to send pictures from phone to computer and from phone to phone or computer to computer and to that the ability to text back and forth between cell phones and even computers and it’s a whole new interaction. Cell phones and computers have opened up a whole new way of relating for that next generation, a generation that is now taking texting and sending pictures to that next level with sexting.
WHAT IS SEXTING? Sexting is basically flirting on the cell phone it involves sexy texting as well as risqué photos, photos in which teens and young adults are either totally or semi-nude. In a recent study which was commissioned by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy and CosmoGirl.com, 22 percent of teenage girls and 18 percent of teenage boys have taken nude or semi nude photos of themselves and have either sent them to someone via cell phone or posted them online. These pictures are usually taken with a camera phone and passed from phone to phone and/or from phone to computer. This form of digital flirting as teens call it has some serious repercussions as well. How far the sexting will go is up to the teen and young adult and whether it will lead to more in face-to-face contact is still unknown.
SHOULD WE BE CONCERNED? Yes we should be very concerned about sexting. It’s a new thing and it’s a trend. And the repercussions from their actions could be irreversible. Although it’s only sending pictures to other cell phones and to the computer those pictures in the wrong hands or in the hands of an angry ex could be detrimental. What teens do not understand are the repercussions from sending and posting these pictures. Posting nude and semi-nude pictures in social groups such as MySpace and Facebook could be seen by anyone who has access to these groups. This could be negative if an employer or college takes a look at the site to get more information on the perspective student/employee. And that is just what colleges and employers have been doing. Even if the pages are set to private there is still the possibility that these pictures could be released in the mainstream. If you have friends on your pages that copy your pictures they can send them anyway and in no time they can be around the Internet. The same thing can happen with cell phones because pictures can be easily shared from cell phone to cell phone and can get around a school in a matter of minutes. So trusting friends to keep those pictures private and between the two of you is not always the situation. In addition to what can happen when the pictures get into the wrong hands is how these teens are perceived by the people who receive and see the pictures that they have sent. Is there a stigma attached to that person that says if they are willing to do this online or over the phone then they must take it further offline or in real time? This might be the case only time will tell. But being considered promiscuous because of these actions can lead to further problems as well especially if sending a sext is misconstrued by he receiver.
What can you do to avoid this with your teenager?
- Talk to them – Talking is important make sure that they understand the full scope of what they are doing and the possible repercussions from their actions. Although it might seem like fun at the time it could get out of hand and they need to understand this completely.
- Monitor them – They are still teenagers and as such should have their MySpace and Facebook pages monitored, make sure that their pages are private and that the pictures they have up are not risqué, it only takes one person to pass that picture on for this situation to go in a bad direction.
- Listen to them – Understand what they think about sexting, texting and flirting. This is a new day and age and something that parents are not necessarily able to relate to because they did not experience this as teens. Try to understand how they feel what they think and where they are coming from.
These few steps can help build a better relationship which can only lead to positive situations. So now you can add sexting to your list of things to talk with your teen about along with drugs, smoking and sex. Sexting is the newest thing with teens and young adults and as a parent you should be concerned enough to learn more about, understand it and make sure your teen understands all aspects of it as well.
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