Things That Parents Can Do About Teen Sexting

Is your teen sending sexual text messages? Just when you thought you couldn't possibly worry about one more thing, along comes teen "sexting"-- sending provocative material such as nude pictures of yourself via text messages.Maybe you fleetingly wondered if your own teen could be involved, but you probably dismissed the thought pretty quickly. If your teen has a cell phone, she's undoubtedly texting. And if she's texting, she may well be sexting. And you'd probably never know it, as savvy as you think you might be. Remember, our kids don't remember life before the Internet. They were born with cell phones in their hands and IM handles on their birth certificates. They live and breathe this stuff, and they are good at hiding their tracks.

The reality is that the numbers are simply not on your side. And no matter how convinced you are that your child could never do something like that, you have to allow for the possibility that you're wrong. Which means you have to have a difficult conversation with your teen. The one that starts with, "Have you ever sent or received naked pictures?"Your child will undoubtedly assert that he has not, that he is insulted at the mere suggestion, that you are insane, and also totally uncool. Are you good at knowing when your child is lying? Use your skills, your gut, and any other tools in your arsenal.Here are some things that parents can do about teen sexting.

Things that parents can do about teen sexting are:

1.Talk to your teen: A scary thought for many of us, but one of those unavoidable responsibilities of parenting. Talk to them about the possible long-term consequences of getting involved in sexting. Like the fact that nude images of kids under age 18 are child pornography, which is illegal. Talk about the short-term consequences, like the whole school getting ahold of a "private" photo shared with a former boy or girlfriend. Talk about self esteem and self respect. 

2.Set rules: Do you let your kids drive drunk? Do you let them ride in the car with no seat belts? So why give them something as dangerous as a cell phone and not establish rules? Start random checks of the phone (yes, you'll need to learn how to use it), and go through everything on it regularly.

3.Take away the cell phone: Drastic, but sometimes necessary, when nothing else is working. If you truly don't trust your child, why would you trust him with a tool he can use to bully others? And to those who argue that their kids "need" cell phones -- oh, come on now. Then get them the most basic model possible, with no texting capabilities. 

These are the things that parents can do about teen sexting.