A teen with a smartphone can present some real challenges for parents. It’s a time in their lives when kids are seeking independence and increased levels of privacy, but they still require a level of supervision. One of the biggest dangers teens face today is sexting. This harmful behavior can have serious and far reaching consequences.
The risks are real
Sexting is a risky activity for many reasons. If your child shares or posts sexual images and sexually charged content, they open themselves up to dangerous people on the Internet, including pedophiles and predators who may seek to harm them. There’s also the risk of the material being shared with others that they did not intend. It can lead to bullying and low self-esteem.
An unlawful activity
Something that many teens may be shocked to learn is that sexting is actually unlawful for minors. Sending and/or receiving explicit images are not legal, and they can actually be charged as a sex offender. It’s surprising, but it has happened, and the criminal record resulting from such a charge can have damaging effects on a teen’s future. It can impact their ability to go to college and pursue certain careers. It is so important to share this information with your teen so that they’re aware of the potential legal consequences.
Discuss the dangers
It can be tough to get teenagers to truly grasp the dangers of certain behaviors, and sexting is no exception. With celebrity culture being so dominant today, teens often look to famous people on social media who frequently share suggestive photos of themselves. It’s hard for a parent to compete with what looks like socially accepted behavior that teens see every day on the internet, in movies, and television. Parents have to discuss the dangers of sexting and encourage and promote positive behaviors.
Actions have consequences
The best way to stop your teen from sexting is to stop them before they even start. However, if you find out that your teen has engaged in sexting at some point, you have to sit them down and have a serious conversation. They need to understand that it isn’t acceptable to take and share such photos. The short and long term consequences can be very serious, and they need to be made aware. Make sure that they delete any suggestive images, and look through their social media accounts together to ensure that there are no explicit images there, either.
Set up controls
Ultimately, parents should not be shy about taking charge of their children’s devices. Set up the parental controls and install an app that allows you to monitor and gain access to your teen’s smartphone. You should be able to see the pictures that they take and share with others. Your teen has to earn and maintain your trust, and you shouldn’t feel guilty about wanting to protect them, even if it means they have less privacy than they would like. If you have caught your teen sexting in the past, you have to vigilant about monitoring their activities and their device.
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