Nudes & Sexting – Is Your Teen Doing It?

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Do you want to know who is sexting?  Your kids and/or their peers most likely are.  As of 2010-2011, 69% of teens have sexted with people they know offline.  Imagine what that number is now.  What do you need to know about your teen and sexting?  We discuss the law, apps and other details you need to know. 

 

Is it even legal? 

Nope, it is not legal. It is scary because it is so easy to send or forward a picture. Because it is so easy, our kids are not even going to think about it. Our goal is to help you talk to your kids about sexting before they start or have any negative consequences. If you tell them what is okay and not okay, or even better yet, have them tell you; they will begin to think twice. Helping them understand these limits helps brain development!

 

How do you talk to your teens about it? 

If you ask them directly, they will likely lie to you. Newsflash! All teens lie. They might do it avoid trouble. They might do it to avoid our emotional backlash.  Here are some strategies to get them talking.  Don’t ask them about themselves, but ask them if they know anyone that sexts? Try asking about the topic, over asking about their actions. Once they start talking, you sit. Don’t move. Don’t worry about having the right words. You can ask questions as long as you are calm. Just listen and be with them! The key is to do it before the kids have gotten in trouble. 

 

What apps are teens using?  

Jax and Renae discuss apps that teens are using right now that you might not even be aware of. We go over what the apps intended function, what teens are using them for, and the safety risks for each app. For example, did you know that you can FaceTime and send private messages on Instagram? 

 

How can I protect my kids from others and themselves? 

Renae and Jax discuss ways to set up your devices to keep you safe. Did you know that the iPhones are much harder to set up to protect your kids? There are options to prevent their children from being able to use and download applications and/or ways to browse. We also discuss ways to allow your children to have and explore the apps in a way that you can still monitor them. 

 

Should I be monitoring my kid’s phones? 

Yes, absolutely, but not all of the time. If you are on your kid’s devices and/or in their apps all of the time. Or if you approach them every time they post something that makes you nervous, they will find a way to hide their activity to you. Remember to choose your battles with them. Remember to consider your child’s age before you react. For example, it is normal for 13-year-olds to take way more selfies than you ever thought possible.

 

What do I do if I know my kids are sexting?

Jax and Renae want to remind you to really monitor your feelings. If you are finding yourself reacting instead of responding, consider what fear you are reacting to. Is it about you or them? Growing up now is completely different than growing up when we were kids. So what you did may not apply to your teen’s situation. Once you are calm set your expectations and boundaries ahead of time so that your child knows what your expectations are. If kids know expectations and don’t feel “harassed” about them, they will respond to what you said. Also, make sure your teen knows what the consequences will be if they break the boundaries. Remember your teen’s phone is their entire social life. There should be limitations, but those limitations must be clear, time-limited, and related to the crime.

 

What do I do if I struggle with my own sexual history?

Stay calm. Lots of parents have histories that will make them more sensitive to their child’s sexual behavior. Take heart! You are not alone! If you find yourself reacting and/or making assumptions about your teen based on your history, there are lots of things you can do. Reach out! Find someone who is safe if your life that can help give you a reality check if needed. See a counselor! Jax and Renae believe everyone needs a counselor to stay sane as a parent. Seeing someone could help reduce your sensitivity to your teen’s behavior!

 

Resources

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/2019/07/19/is-teen-sexting-cause-concern-or-no-big-deal-how-help-kids-stay-safe-online/

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/12/well/family/teens-are-sexting-now-what.html

 

https://www.criminaldefenselawyer.com/crime-penalties/juvenile/sexting.htm

 

https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/teens/bullying-safety-privacy/all-about-sexting

 

Scholarly Resources

 

Casas, J.A..; Ojeda, M.; Elipe, P.; & Del Rey, R. (2019). Exploring which factors contribute to teens’ participation in sexting. Computers in Human Behavior, 100, 60-69. 

Holoyda, B.; Landess, J.; Sorrentino, R.; & Friedman, S. (2018). Trouble at teens fingertips. Youth sexting and the law. Behavioral Sciences & the Law, 36(2), 170-181.

Rice, E.; Craddock, J.; Hemler, M.; Rusow, J.; Plant, A.; Montoya, J.; & Kordic, T. (2018). Associations between sexting behaviors and sexual behaviors among mobile phone‐owning teens in Los Angeles. Child Development, 89(1), 110-117. 

Wachs, S.; Wright, M. F.; & Wolf, K.D. (2017). Psychological correlates of teen sexting in three countries-Direct and indirect associations between self-control, self-esteem, and sexting International Journal of Developmental Science, Vol 11, 109-120.

Check out this episode of Raise A Little Hell Podcast!

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