According to a recent survey on the parental control website http://on.fb.me/pJFDP4 20% of all teens are sexting; 22% of girls and 18% of boys. Sexting includes sending and receiving sexual photos and text messages. Here are more numbers: 1 in 10 teenagers aged 14 to 24 has sent or received a nude image. Of those that receive nude messages, 17% will pass it on to another person. Of those 17%, 55% will share it with more than one person.
Parents this is a real pressure cooker for teen boys and girls. Today’s technology makes it fast and easy to share these photos within your teen’s friend group. But is does not stop there, sexting pictures can travel the world in a matter of minutes. And once they are out there, there is no taking them back.
Many experts find that girls are more aggressive these days, willing to follow the leads of so many movies and print adds that show women barely clothed, if at all. They think it is a way to connect to their boyfriends. Many boys agree thinking the photos are”hot.” Often these teen romances do not last, someone is hurt and in that moment, have no second thoughts, they press “send” and a teens life is changed forever.
Parents, it is so important to have an open discussion about sexting with your teen. Beginning around 11 years old and continuing through the early 20s, your teen’s brain is rapidly changing. Sound decision making and, considering consequences are two qualities that have not fully developed in teenagers. They need their parents to talk with them, to help them make sound decisions in this world of constant and relentless peer pressure.
Ask specific questions, do not assume they have or have not sent or received a sexting message. Be complete in your explanations of the high cost of this behavior. Talk with them about self esteem and honoring their bodies and well as another person’s privacy. Most important, show them that you are a great listener by staying calm and not judging. As hard as this conversation might be, you want them to be comfortable now and so they will open up to you for many other discussions to come.
Advice for parents from commonsencemedia.org http://bit.ly/pog3qQ
- Don’t wait for an incident to happen to your child or your child’s friend before you talk about the consequences of sexting. Sure, talking about sex or dating with teens can be uncomfortable, but it’s better to have the talk before something happens.
- Remind your kids that once an image is sent, it can never be retrieved — and they will lose control of it. Ask teens how they would feel if their teachers, parents, or the entire school saw the picture, because that happens all the time.
- Talk about pressures to send revealing photos. Let teens know that you understand how they can be pushed or dared into sending something. Tell them that no matter how big the social pressure is, the potential social humiliation can be hundreds of times worse.
- Teach your children that the buck stops with them. If someone sends them a photo, they should delete it immediately. It’s better to be part of the solution than the problem. Besides, if they do send it on, they’re distributing pornography — and that’s against the law.
- Check out http://www.thatsnotcool.com/ it’s a fabulous site that gives kids the language and support to take texting and cell phone power back into their own hands. It’s also a great resource for parents who are uncomfortable dealing directly with this issue.
More information: 11 Facts about texting: http://bit.ly/nZCN9X
Arizona law about sexting explained: http://bit.ly/hS24Sz