by editorial team
The days of passing “notes” to a crush in biology have long passed. Teens (as well as younger and older children) can now use technology to send messages—including audio files, photos, and videos—in the blink of an eye. These messages are sometimes sexual. And they may exist forever in cyberspace.
Cyberbullying.org defines sexting as “the sending or receiving of sexually-explicit or sexually-suggestive images or video via a cell phone or computer.”
While parental supervision of your children's activities online is important, it is not a failsafe plan when it comes to sexting. With technology, kids can “sext” from anywhere without others noticing: school, their bedroom, on the couch with the family during movie night, or just about anywhere in plain view of others.
Amanda Lenhart of the Pew Research Center reports the following to be contributing reasons for sexting.
The Pew Research Center also identified three predominant scenarios for “sexting.”
Kids are young, impulsive and naturally curious about sex. Hormones, innocence, and a natural curiosity combined with the immediacy and permanency of sexting can lead to a perfect storm of potential problems. Photos, pictures or anything sexual attached to a child’s name can have lasting implications.
Images can remain forever in cyberspace. This could cause future embarrassment, undermine future educational and career opportunities (prospective employers and colleges may find this kind of information), and increase exposures to unsafe people (such as predators). There are also possible legal ramifications for both sender and recipient as well as the parent, if there are images of the underage individual on a shared family computer.
The best time to talk with kids about sexting is before it happens. Most parents dread the talking about anything related to sex. But parents must help children navigate the online world safely. There is no guarantee that sexting won’t occur, but the following tips may help minimize its impact.
Kids and teens naturally live in the moment. Considering the permanence of what they post now is not natural for them, unless parents educate their children about what their kids should not publish on social media. Children can benefit greatly from understanding the permanency of what they publish or send, and writing and sharing things with mindfulness and maturity.
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