Is sexting the modern version of “I’ll show you mine, if you show me yours?” Maybe. In case you’ve been living under a rock for past couple of years, sexting is the practice of sending explicit words or pictures via text messaging. It has become common practice, and if you a teen you should be aware.
A recent study by, Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine on teen sexting finds that 28% of teenagers text fully-nude pictures of themselves. Teens as young as 14, said they had sent a sexually explicit image of themselves and nearly twice as many said that they had one. And, more 25 percent of photo recipients said that they had forwarded it to others!
Yikes! Not surprisingly, more girls (68.4 percent) were asked to send a sext than boys (42.1 percent).
So why do they do it? Some of the reasons given were:
- Sending to someone they wanted to date or hook up with
- Pressure from a guy is a reason girls send sexy messages or images
- To be “fun or flirtatious”; their most common reason for sending sexy content
- Girls used sexting as a “sexy present” for their boyfriend
- Sending images or suggestive messages as a”joke”
Not only can sexting get your teenager arrested for distributing child pornography, but the more likely problems will be social. One hastily sent pic to a crush's phone can be forwarded to friends, posted online, or printed in the blink of an eye. Imagine the public humiliation that follows when the images land on Facebook or the cell phones of hundreds of other kids and adults. And just when think it’s all blown over, you can worry colleges and prospective employers finding these photos years later. More and more colleges and employers check online profiles looking for indications of a candidate's suitability. Naked photos usually don’t bode well for candidates.
So what is a parent to do? As uncomfortable as it may be, it's crucial for parents to talk to their kids, before something happens. Make sure your child understands that sexting is against the law. Teens live in the moment. They need to know the seemingly momentary nature of racy pictures, videos, emails, and text message doesn’t match the reality of their eternal presence in cyberspace. Remind your kids that once they hit send, the image can never be retrieved. And rarely do private photos stay that way.
Your kids can’t control what they receive, but if they do get a sext , they should delete it immediately and resist temptation to share with ANYBODY!
And if your daughter wants to send a present to her boyfriend, suggest she bake him some cookies.