A growing trend among youngsters to take and share indecent photos through mobile phones is a matter of grave concern.
Two major surveys involving more than 3,000 children suggest that four out of ten have received or seen an indecent image via a mobile, reports the Daily Mail .
As if you weren’t concerned enough about your child’s online life, the topic of sexting is another important facet to our modern day e-world. Sexting encompasses any electronic exchange that contains sexual talk and or pictures. In mild cases it can look like flirting, while in severe cases it can be considered a crime. Take, for example, a just barely 18 year-old 12th grade boy who is texting an almost 15 year old freshman. He asks her “how far she has gone,” which then leads to other graphic questions. In the end he asks her if she’d send him a suggestive picture of herself. She obliges, and suddenly you have a very serious offense.
A serving police officer seconded to the survey, Alan Earl, has given talks in scores of secondary schools about the dangers of children swapping explicit photographs of themselves. "Boys ask girls to take pictures of themselves naked, and the girls do it to please them. Not all girls, but those who have boyfriends: they think their pictures are not going to be shown."
"After my talk, at almost every school, a teacher will approach me and confide that they've already had to deal with an incident like those I've described," Earl added.
More typically, the naked images sent around phones are static poses, usually of girls standing up or lying down.
"It is girlfriend/boyfriend stuff, but then the relationship breaks down and the boy sends the pictures on," said Alan Earl.
A photograph of a young girl in the wrong hands is the beginning of a nightmare. Because teens can “hide” behind their screens, sexting, allows them to learn about sexual behaviors without the face-to-face embarrassment. Even “good” girls and boys may be tempted to sext.
When should you talk to your teen about sexting? And what should you say? The answer is to talk opening about cell phone use and sexting before it happens.
- Tell your child/teen that YOU have the ability to monitor their texts. Let him or her know that if sexual talk, body pictures or other crude information is exchanged, you will suspend cellular use.
- Enforce a NO BODY PICTURES rule. No excuses.
- Monitor their texts! If this feels violating, then monitor the time texts are sent (aka 2 am) and to whom they are sent.
- Children under the age of 16 do not REALLY need smart phones with high resolution picture capabilities, etc. This only facilitates sexting.
- Talk to girls about the dangers of having text conversations about sexual experiences – past and potential future. Boys will quickly become more bold and eager to text more and ask more graphic questions. Girls sometimes do not know how to stop unsolicited questions or requests for pictures of themselves.
- Talk to boys about the trouble that can result from blatant sexual solicitations. Girls will often-times NOT tell them they are uncomfortable, or can turn around and claim “sexual harassment” when none was intended (this should be judged by a case-to-case basis obviously.)
With the prevalence of cell phones, sexting is on the rise. Parents need to be aware of the threats and talk to their children about the dangers to prevent the potentially devestating, and long-lasting effects of sexting.