This is a dangerous activity many tweens and teenagers are engaging in that could have lifelong consequences if parents do not step in and become proactive now. Many parents do not believe their children are engaging in what is referred to as sexting because they believe their child is too innocent for such behavior. The truth of the matter is more tweens and teens are engaging in this act than parents realize. Another truth is that these children are more likely to engage in sexual intercourse in comparison to their peers, as well.
The term sexting simply refers to any explicit material, whether it is a message or an image, which is sent via email or text message to or from your child to or from another person. This message exchange could be a picture of themselves, a message about a sexual act they would like to perform, or a sexual act they would like to receive. The variations of these “sexts” are limitless and are not a new notion. The term was developed in 2005 and most teens are engaging in sending and receiving these messages, initially, either out of curiosity or because of peer pressure.
What is sexting’s danger: They Believe They Are in Love
Some teens and tweens believe their first crush or puppy love is, in fact, true love. Think back to your feelings back when you were that age so you can understand what they were going through. Now throw in technology and the whole thing is a whole new ball game. Back when you were their age, it was innocent because you could pass notes and talk on the phone. Now, there is a certain level of anonymity involved because your child can communicate with their boyfriend or girlfriend without actually hearing each other’s voices. This opens up a whole new set of “courage” and they will take steps that you may not have thought possible when you were their age. This leads to a level of intimacy that is too “old” for their age and it is often confused for feelings of love.
Learn more about Teens and Sexting.
What is sexting’s danger: They Believe it’s Harmless Fun
One of the biggest problems with sexting is that tweens and teens believe it is harmless fun because no sexual acts are occurring. The problem there is they are not keyed into the emotional ramifications associated with sexual discussions. There are also thirteen states in the United States that have laws against sexting that most teens are not aware of. Therefore, if the parents of the other person on the receiving end of these “sext” messages do not like what they are seeing, there could be legal ramifications that could have lifelong consequences. Once tweens and teens learn about the legal ramifications associated with sexting, it is often too late unless they receive a lesson from school or from a proactive parent like you.
What is sexting’s danger: Open Their Eyes to the Hard Truth:
When discussing your understanding of “what is sexting” to your child, it is time to explain the hard truth to them. More often than not, your child may not realize that the pictures and messages that they are sending out are being shared with other people. They could be the type of child who is too trusting and they believe that, because they are keeping what is sent to them private, the same thing is happening with whatever they are sending out. The sad truth is, statistically, that is not happening. More often, tweens and teens are sharing what they receive with their friends. This is an embarrassing and disappointing revelation for children to discover, especially when they believe the person they were exchanging messages with loved them.
It’s Time For “The Talk”
Even if your child is already engaging in “sexting” with a partner, it is not too late to have a discussion with them about sex. If they close off to you initially, keep trying. The last thing you want to do is close the door on this conversation. That way, you are certain they do not engage in unsafe sex or start having sex too young. If you believe they may have already experimented with sex, talk to them about safe sex and the different methods of birth control. They will more than likely be embarrassed and that is a normal reaction, but do not respond by throwing “self-help” books at them. Keep talking to them about the do’s and don’ts of safe sex and being responsible with their bodies.