How Do I Deal with Teen Sexting?

by Cris Clapp Logan on July 5th, 2013 in Parents

Most parents I know don’t want to come anywhere close to acknowledging their son or daughter could be mixed up in any way with teenage sexting, but chances are, even if your son or daughter are not creating a sext message themselves, they are pretty darn likely to receive or be forwarded a sext message during their tween and teenage years.

Here is a snapshot of statistics about the frequency of teen sexting:

The percentage of teens who have sent or posted nude or semi-nude pictures or videos of themselves:

  • 20% of teenagers overall
  • 22% of teen girls
  • 18% of teen boys
  • 11% of young teen girls aged 13-16

The percentage of teens sending or posting sexually suggestive messages:

  • 39% of all teenagers
  • 37% of teen girls
  • 40% of teen boys

In general: 

  • 48% of teenagers say they have received a sext message.
  • 44% of both teen girls and boys say it is common for sexually suggestive text messages to get shared with people other than the intended recipient.

I hope you’re beginning to see that this is a topic you need to engage with your kids on.  Some quick parenting tips/recommendations include to:

  • Talk with your kids about sexting.  Kids want and need adult guidance. Set clear boundaries regarding appropriate and inappropriate internet and mobile use. Ask your kids what they know about sexting and if any of their friends have sent or received a sext message.
  • Understand that there are serious legal consequences. Your child should never take or send a sexually suggestive image of themselves or anyone else. If they do, they could be charged for creating or distributing child pornography. If they keep any sext images of their peers, even if they did not take them, they could be charged with possession of child pornography. 
  • Talk to your kids about the emotional and peer-related consequences. Sext messages can be shared instantly through connected devices.  More often than not, a sext does not remain with the intended recipient. These images can never be erased and can be archived, uploaded, copied and forwarded forever.
  • Know who your child is communicating with online and through their mobile device.
  • Consider placing limits on electronic communication. Check out the parental controls offered by your mobile provider. Many mobile carriers offer family plans that allow you to limit the amount and type of text messages your kids can send. Also disable attachments or picture texts on text messages to more comprehensively protect them from engaging in sexting.
  • Measure your response. If you find that your child has received a sext message, consider going to the other parents involved before going to the local police. You want to protect your child, but be careful not to unnecessarily incriminate your child or one of their peers. If malice or criminal intent is involved, then it would be wise to consider consulting with an attorney, the police, or an expert.

And also be sure to check out my short video on sexting HERE.

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