Sexting refers to sending texts with inappropriate (i.e.,
sexual) messages or pictures of people naked or performing sexual acts. In a
recent study published in the February 2014 issue of Pediatrics, scientists surveyed 410 students in the 7th grade and found
that 22 percent of them had “sexted.” The study also found that kids who had
sexted may be more likely to actually engage in other sexual behaviors.
Sexting has serious
Schools take sexting seriously. Being suspended or expelled can result. It will
go on the “sexter’s” record, which may affect job or college acceptances.
charges. It is a crime in some states. Police may get involved in other
cases as well.
consequences. It can be hurtful, even to the point of social isolation, for
the person who has sent pictures and sometimes even for the person receiving the
What can parents do?
your child. As with all aspects of social media and technology, talk to
your children about sexting and what it is. Explain that it is never acceptable.
As soon as you hand your child a digital device, be it a phone or a tablet or a
computer, you should begin the discussion that sending or receiving
inappropriate pictures is never okay, nor is sending explicit sexual messages. Discuss
that it is not funny and can get them into a lot of trouble. Remind children
that messages that get sent can be seen by anyone and can’t be taken back.
from day one with a digital device, make it clear to your child that having that
device is a privilege and not a right. Along with that privilege, your child
should be aware that you have the right and responsibility to monitor your
child’s activities on the device. You should always know the passcodes to all
of their devices.
temptations. A lot of sexting occurs under peer pressure when groups of
kids are together. Collecting cell phones at parties or at sleepovers and so
forth may help.
the news. There is no shortage of incidents involving teens and sexting in
the news, as well as news about the negative consequences that resulted. Bring
these evens to your child’s attention and discuss.
these issues with the school and other parents. Schools can do workshops for
both parents and kids. Other parents sometimes have advice or experiences to
share that can be helpful.
are way more tech-savvy than their parents. Take the time to learn about the
sites they are using and how they work. It may actually be a great way to spend
time with your child because most kids get pretty excited to teach adults how
to navigate the digital world.