Parents, Is Your Child Sexting?
by William Jackson, M.Ed. @wmjackson
Parents expand the talk about bullying into the area of Sexting to make sure your child understands that Sexting is a form of digital porn. One in five tweens/teens/young Adults’ maybe risking prison because of sending and receiving child pornography. This includes risking being labeled as a sex offender or sexual predator because of distributing nude or seminude pictures of themselves or others under the age of 18.
Cell phone technology has contributed to the ability to send pictures and video that normally would not be accessible and shareable. Youth and teens have learned the empowerment and engagement of technology, applying it inappropriately because of immaturity; the thrill of sexual activity and peer pressure.
Parents need to understand that teens with cell phones are not restricted from sending, receiving or further distribution of nude or semi-nude pictures on Social Media. If a youth willingly or unwillingly is photographed partially nude, semi-nude or totally nude that is under 18 and those pictures are distributed electronically it is against the law. Even though the circumstances may seem trivial the results can be devastating to a young person, and their reputations within the school, community and even where they worship religiously are damaged, their reputations can be destroyed.
This is a digital age of E-reputations and E-personalities that are important and need to be protected and managed. Surveys have shown that teenagers and young adults surveyed by the National Campaign to Prevent Teenage and Unplanned Pregnancy and CosmoGirl.com found that 25 percent of teenagers and 36 percent of young adults ages 20 to 26 said they had sent or posted nude or seminude photos of themselves.
This survey may seem hard to believe, the information holds true and seems to be growing because of the increase in cell phone use by tweens, teens, and young adults is growing. The power of wireless technology has increasingly caused problems for parents, schools and law enforcement because of the increased ability to send and receive information on multiple platforms and even in Apps.
Additional surveys have shown parents and guardians that tweens, teens, and young adults should never be underestimated or perceived as naive or technology illiterate. Teens teach each other new tips and tricks, the latest skills, hacks, hints and codes that allow for more flexibility and manipulation of technology both legal and illegal.
Parents should be aware that their children and teens may have a sexual inquisitiveness, subjected to bad judgment, influenced by peer pressure and love of electronic sharing especially with pictures and video they take. When these elements are combined, it can become a dangerous combination of technology and raging hormones.
Parents, especially if they are paying the cell phone bill should periodically without notice check the monthly bills online for activity; this can show texts sent and received, photos, video and other important information that is transmitted digitally; the use of data is important because that can be an indication of increased use.
Parents should occasionally physically check phones for content if a child refuses to give their phone when asked this is a red flag that something is not right and the parent should investigate further. Technology is a two-edged sword, it can help with networking, research and empowering youth, teens and young adults with information, the Internet is a wide open portal to appropriate and inappropriate information parents must communicate with their expectations for behaviors on and offline.
Parents have a responsibility and are accountable to manage what they allow their children access to and will be held accountable if necessary by law enforcement.