Every generation has its list of potentially dangerous activities targeting adolescents and teenagers. While experimenting with drugs and online dating are some of the major trends these days, there's another pattern that's catapulted to the top of disturbing behavior among today's youth. Sexting, or text messaging, is extremely popular for individuals mainly between the ages of 9 and 18. Parents should be aware of this new form of engagement and how to protect their children from its negative aftermath. Sexting refers to sending sexually suggestive messages, photographs, and signage to others via text messages on mobile devices or other multimedia tools. The items sent by users are typically nude pictures and erotic words or phrases. The purpose is to flirt with romantic prospects, invite dating experiences, and increase social status among youth circles. Many pre-teens and teenagers get involved due to boredom or peer pressure.
Although it may seem harmless to some young people, there's several severe drawbacks to sexting. For one, individuals must live with the permanence of their activity. Once a photo or message is released into Cyberspace, there's a chance that it may stay out in the open forever no matter what anyone does to try to erase it. This could eventually affect a person's chance at applying for college or getting a job in the future.
Secondly, sexting can ruin an individual's reputation. Relationships with parents, teachers, mentors, friends, and other close connections can become strained if a person has a history of being part of this trend. As a result, they risk ending up in awkward situations or become isolated from the people that they're usually in contact with.
Most importantly, sexting can lead to legal ramifications. Teenagers who are considered of age can get in trouble with the law and face charges for being involved with the circulation of child pornography. Consequently, they can be forced to register as sex offenders for a certain number of years which reduces their likelihood of gaining trust or having a good social standing in their community.
Ways To Protect Your Kid
One of the best ways to prevent your child from falling prey to the dangers of sexting is to keep an open dialogue with them about the threats that generate from this behavior. Create an atmosphere that makes it easy for your kids to feel comfortable about being open with you. By doing this, you're encouraging them to listen to your warnings rather than rebelling.
Be sure to keep a close eye on what your adolescents or teens are involved with, especially the applications on their cell phones and computers. Don't avoid this method of prevention because you think it makes you look like you don't trust your children. At the end of the day, it's better to be safe than sorry.
Lastly, create and stick by your boundaries. If you catch your child participating in some suggestive behavior, take away some of their privileges or initiate some other form of disciplinary action. If you're firm about your rules, your kids will usually learn to abide by them.
Sexting shouldn't be brushed off as some innocuous form of communication between young people. Consider the damage that this trend causes and keep your loved ones safe. The sooner you take action, the better.
Concerned about sexting? Learn the basics and what you can do to help prevent the dangerous consequences with our eBook: “Understanding Sexting: Nine Things Every Parent Should Know”