How Parents Can Address Children, Smartphones and Sexting
What exactly is sexting? Sexting can be described as the act of sending sexually explicit images or text via social media, text messaging, email or other means. Sexting is often seen as the norm especially among teenagers although this behavior can lead to a very undesirable outcome.
What prompts children to engage in sexting?
There are many things that could prompt children to send sexually explicit texts or images. The most common reason is usually a desire to express love and commitment to a person they are in a relationship with. Others send the photos to initiate a relationship while others simply do it for the fun of it or to somehow gain popularity. The bottom line is, technology has created an avenue that allows kids to do things that they would not have the courage to do under normal circumstances in the real world. It is also common for teenagers to make impulsive decisions while using a smartphone or tablet connected to the Internet without thinking the whole thing through.
The most common emotion one feels either moments, days or months after sexting is humiliation. Sooner or later, it is likely that those pictures will be making rounds on the Internet and in text message inboxes of a few dozen close friends after a fight or a breakup. Sometimes the messages are used as bragging rights or trading sexts like playing cards. This leads to a feeling of instant betrayal and the threat of circulation of the pictures can be used as a bully tactic. It may make it difficult to join a good college or even secure a job if nude photographs find their way to the surface..
What can parents do to address the issue of sexting?
1. Talk to your child about sexting
The most common mistake that parents make is to wait until something goes wrong before talking about certain things. Instead, it is important to talk to your children about issues that may affect them so that they don’t make mistakes in the first place. Parents should explain to their kids what sexting is and explain what the dangers of sexting are. It is important for children to understand how to respect their bodies and not expose themselves to danger by sexting anyone. It does not matter how rebellious your child or teenager will be about discussing sexting or dating matters with you. Remember that it is your responsibility to keep your children safe even from sexting.
2. Talk about peer pressure
Most kids end up sexting mainly due to peer pressure. Parents should address this issue early enough. Remind your children that they should never be forced to send anything especially something as private as their privates. They should understand that regardless of whether or not someone will like them more for it, even a small chance that it could lead to future humiliation as a result of those photos spreading is not worth the hassle. Let them know how they can effectively deal with the pressure and that you will always be there for them to help them through the problems they are facing.
3. Empower your children to do the right thing
Those cameras and that wireless Internet device we give our children is not just a toy. Children need to understand that they will be accountable for how they use their smartphone and access to smartphones and tablets can be restricted at the parent’s discretion. Children should never send inappropriate materials to others. If something like that is sent to your child’s phone, the child should know how to tell that person that those kinds of messages are not acceptable and that their parents will not be pleased to find that kind of material on their phone or tablet.
4. Let your children know that they can’t take it back
Certain things cannot be undone. While life will go on after a sexting scandal, exposing oneself on a public scale like that has a lasting effect.Talk to your children and explain to them what it really means to send a sexually explicit image. Once they press the send button, they will no longer have control of the image. The photo could end up anywhere and get duplicated and shared and passed around all over the world for many years down the road. Children need to think about how they would feel if by chance, a sexually explicit image of themselves ended up in the hands of their entire school, parents, grandparents or teachers. It’s like the opposite of Las Vegas: what happens on the Internet stays on the Internet.