Know! To STOP Sexting in its Tracks
In a previous tip, Know! Your Child’s Risk for Sexting, we talked about the prevalence of teen sexting, the problems it can cause and the importance of making this topic a priority in your conversations with your pre-teens and teens. In this tip, we provide parents with ideas on taking those conversations beyond, “You better never…”
Sexting isn’t risk-free (as many teens may believe). Schools can only do so much to curtail such activity, which means it falls upon us, as parents and caregivers, to give our children a clear understanding of the dangers and consequences of sexting.
Here are some suggestions:
- Get them talking about the topic by asking (in a non-confrontational way) what they know about sexting (keep in mind they may call it something different) and if they know of peers doing it
- Remind them that messages and photos that are meant to be private can easily be shared, even with apps that claim privacy – there is no safeguarding an image or message once sent, as it can easily be received, copied and forwarded
- Tell them that if they receive a sext to NEVER forward it or share with anyone – as it could be a violation of privacy laws or possibly be considered child pornography
- Let them know that there are real scenarios of such images being forwarded and ending up on pornographic websites – causing real safety concerns for the females or males in the photos
- Share with them the stories of young people who deeply regretted their decision to send inappropriate photos or videos of themselves and are now dealing with extreme social ridicule
- Be clear on your expectations that they do NOT ever post or send any type of sexually-oriented content, as well as the consequences should this rule be broken
- Monitor your teen’s phones and other electronic devices – it’s not an invasion of privacy, it’s your job
- Make it a house rule that cell phones are collected before bedtime and charged in your room overnight (as nighttime is a popular time for sexting to occur)
- Be actively engaged in your child’s daily life; talk with them regularly about your family’s values; help to build their self-esteem; and teach them about the importance of privacy, intimacy and above all, self-respect
While there is no guarantee that your child will steer clear of such activity, the greatest defense against teen sexting is a parent who communicates openly with their child to provide a clear understanding of the risks, who sets clear expectations and consequences and is actively engaged in their child’s daily life.
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Return to the Ohio Department of Education’s Start Talking! webpage.
Sources: GuardChild.com: Teenage Sexting Statistics. Joseph Nowinski Ph.D. - Psychology Today: Teen Sexting: The Dark Side of the Web, Dec. 2015. The Atlantic: Why Kids Sext, Nov. 2014. TheSpruce.com: What is Sexting and Why is it a Problem, Feb. 2017.