Conversations about sex between teens and parents have always been awkward, but necessary. Thanks to new technology, there’s now new ground that those conversations have to cover. Sexting is a surprisingly common activity among teens, and there have been cases where suggestive pictures of teens have gone viral. There have also been cases of teens that committed suicide over sexts that went public. It’s a serious issue, and it’s important for parents to talk to their teens about it. Here are some tips that will help you keep your teen safe.
Just like you shouldn’t wait until your kids are having sex to talk to them about safe sex, you shouldn’t wait until sexting affects your child before talking to them about it. For one thing, you may not know when that happens. Even if your child has never sent a racy photo, there’s a chance that they may have received one at some point.
Start by asking your child if they know what sexting is, and ask them to explain their understanding of what the term means. If you know where they are on the subject, it will be easier for you to start a conversation that will have an impact on them.
Talk About Consequences
Your child needs to understand what can happen if they send a racy photo, or receive one and pass it on. Remind your children that nothing is ever truly erased once it’s on the internet. Before they send a photo, they should consider whether they’d be OK with all of their friends seeing it, with strangers seeing, or with their parents, grandparents, and teachers seeing it. All of those possibilities could happen if the person they send the photo to passes it on. Many teens have had the experience of finding out that someone they thought they could trust shared something they believed was private. Remind them that it’s better not to take that chance in the first place when it comes to photos of themselves.
It’s also important for your child to understand that there could be legal consequences to these types of photos. Technically, a nude photo of an underage person is child pornography, even if it’s only shared with another underage person. In some areas, police are bringing child pornography charges against teens who take or share nude photos in order to deter the behavior. Remind your teen that passing along a photo they received from someone else could be considered a crime. Not only should they not take suggestive photos themselves, they should immediately delete any that they receive.
Talk About Pressure
Your teen might feel pressure to send sexts. It could come in the form of dares, harassment, or pressure from a boyfriend or girlfriend. Remind them that while dealing with peer pressure isn’t fun, dealing with a revealing photo that’s gone viral would be many times worse.
Talk about strategies to resist peer pressure. Try role playing with your teen so that they can practice standing up to harassment or persuasive tactics.
Knowing what your teen is doing online will also help you keep them safe. Parental monitoring software can help with that. To find out how it works, get our free trial.