What You Need to Know About Sexting

It’s not uncommon that your teenager’s phone is glued to their hand. With smartphones being able to cover communication, organization, entertainment, research and more, it’s no wonder teens are using them so much. One other activity your teen might be engaging in that you might not be aware of, however, is called sexting. Here is what you need to know about it.

What is “Sexting?”

Generally speaking, “sexting” is described as sending sexual, nude or explicit photos of oneself to another. This might be over text message, email or even through a photo messaging app, like Snapchat. In fact, studies suggest that one in six teens who own cellphones have reported either sending or receiving explicit pictures, making it more common that most parents might think.

What are the Risks?

There are many risks associated with sexting that teens might not realize. First of all, it’s a felony. While some states have specific laws about sexting, others might fall under child pornography laws. Even if it’s consensual and nobody was hurt in the process, someone who takes or sends a picture could be required to register as a sex offender. Furthermore, parents can even be charged under child pornography laws since they are held responsible for their teen’s cellphone use.

In addition, there is the risk of these photos being put on the Internet. If this happens, it is virtually impossible for them to be removed, meaning your child might have an unwanted picture—accessible by anyone—online for life.

Finally, there is of course the case of sexual predators and the fact that your child may not actually know who they are texting or where these photos are ending up. Put simply, sexting is not to be taken lightly and it’s important that both you and your teen are aware of its repercussions.

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Image LoloStock / Shutterstock

What Can I Do as a Parent?

So what can you do as a parent to protect your teen? The first step is education. Educate yourself on the risks and realities of sexting and the laws surrounding them. Then pass this information along to your teen so that they are aware of the severity of this action. You can also establish ground rules around technology and communication in the house and perhaps even implement “spot checking” of messages. Be sure you communicate your concerns to your teen so that they understand this is a means of protection, not unnecessary and excessive control. Finally, let them know that once you send a photo to someone, you can’t get it back. While it may seem easy to just click a button, that decision can stay with you for life.

Featured image LoloStock / Shutterstock