Texting or Sexting?
Something new for parents to worry about!
If you’re anything like me, you’re generally glad that your kids have cell phones. You know that if there’s a problem, they can always reach you. Likewise, if they are the problem, you can track them down. Our moms had to holler down the street when it was time for dinner–we just have to hit a couple buttons.
But this week’s spate of stories on the prevalence of “sexting” might have you reconsidering that family plan. According to a survey conducted by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, more than 50% of girls surveyed were pressured into sending their boyfriends nude or semi-nude photos of themselves via their cell phone.
But lest you think we can just blame the boys, 52% said they sent the photos as a “sexy present” for their boyfriends. And I think we know that teenage boys are completely discreet and would never do anything like post these photos online or even simply share them with two or three dozen of their closest friends!
There have even been cases where sexting has resulted in arrests. A 17-year-old Wisconsin youth was arrested after he posted online nude photos of the 16-year-old girl who broke his heart. Depending on the age of the kids involved, statutory rape charges can even be leveled, as was the case with a Rochester, New York, boy who forwarded around naughty photos of his 15-year-old girlfriend.
What can you do about this troubling new trend? As with many parenting challenges, the best offense can be to simply get in front of it and talk to your kids about it. Remind them that in this wired world, a momentary lapse in judgment can linger for the rest of their lives, affecting the impression others – college admission directors, future love interests and potential employers–form about them, fair or not. Don’t be apocalyptic about the warning you give, but maybe cite examples like High School Musical‘s Vanessa Hudgens or (God forbid) Paris Hilton.
Then again, maybe you don’t have to mention Paris Hilton. . .