Forget about worries about being prudish & trying to limit teenagers’ sexual freedom – the real dangers of sexting lie in the uncontrolled distribution of images considered pornographic by most legal bodies & could seriously harm the future of your young teens.
Sexting (in case you didn’t already know) involves the sharing of naked or sexual images, generally of oneself, with another person via texts/social media/instant messaging.
Think back, for a moment, to when you were a teenager. Pressures were high, right? Perhaps you joined in on picking on a classmate once because you felt they’d pick on you if you didn’t. Perhaps you dated somebody you didn’t really like, because dating them would make you seem ‘cooler’. Or maybe you did a lot of other things you look back on today & shudder.
Now add the wonders of social media & mobile technology to that mix of social pressures at high school. It’s no surprise that an alarming number of young people are sending naked images of themselves or distributing explicit images of others without thinking about it!
Why is sexting dangerous? For one, you don’t know where your images end up. Teens could be sending them to their boyfriends/girlfriends, but as we know, kids can be cruel & fickle (actually, not just kids!). Secondly, distributing images of underaged persons could have legal consequences (like being charged with child pornography, even if the distributor is a minor also). These images could end up ANYWHERE and could haunt your kids forever.
So what do you do?
According to uKnowKids, being open & talking to your kids to help them fully understand the impacts of sexting is helpful. Let them knowthat there are legal consequences as well. Talking to them about self-esteem & why they feel pressured to sext could help tackle the problem at its root cause. Finally, they also advise the use of technology to monitor your kids’ communication activity. They may seem far too invasive for some, and we recommend that you use your own discretion with this last point.
Here’s the infographic by UKnowKids from their website, http://info.uknowkids.com.