Your child’s device beeps and he is nowhere near his phone. Out of curiosity, you open the message and there is an inappropriate picture of a girl. How do you manage such situation as a parent? Would you go full force screaming and yelling or let it go silently?
The exchange of nude pictures between two adults is considered normal and legal. Although, it does not promote a good moral trend. However, when sending of nude photos or explicit content, which is defined as sexting, is done among kids and teens, then it becomes a great concern to these kids’ families and themselves.
Sexting has become one of the major issues parents face in this Internet era. Most parents are not even aware of it till ‘sexting gone wrong’ escalates and their children become victims of cyberbullying, expelled from school or in the custody of the police.
According to statistical data:
20% of teens have sent or posted semi-nude or nudes of themselves online.
39% of teens have sent sexually explicit messages via text, email or IMs apps.
51% of teenage girls say they were pressured to sext by their boyfriends and just 18% of teenage boys claimed they were pressured by their girlfriends.
34% of teenage girls say they sent/posted sexually suggestive contents to feel sexy.
75% of teenage kids say they know sexting can have serious negative consequences.
In addition to the above-mentioned statistics let’s explore some of the reasons kids engage in sexting:
They send sext messages as a romantic gesture
As a favor in exchange for other services
Low Self-esteem and identity crisis
They may have to do it because of peer pressure
Or just feeling naughty or want to show they are grown up and capable of making their own decisions.
What are some of the consequences of Sexting?
Sexual explicit content sent to another person is never guaranteed to remain private. However, in some cases, they actually do stay private. Besides, once a relationship is broken these pictures are distributed via social media because of the hurt and anger associated with the break-up. This is very humiliating and such people might in time be emotionally handicapped if the situation is not properly handled.
This is when inappropriate photos get out there and the victim of sexting is being bullied online. Mean messages attached to these pictures are posted on various social media platforms to hurt and embarrass the victim. Statistically speaking, online bullying also known as cyberbullying is the number 1 cause of child anxiety, depression and suicide thoughts. 2 out of 9 victims of cyberbullying have considered committing suicide according to studies by Yale University. (http://www.bullyingstatistics.org)
Loss of friends
Sexting can make your kids lose quite a number of friends. Your kid’s friends will not like to be associated with him/her. This may force you to either transfer your kid to another school or simply relocate to a different environment.
Sexting could lead to both children being prosecuted for possession and dissemination of child pornography and their names placed on the sex offender list for a long time. That is how serious sexting can turn out to.
Moreover, it also opens the way for a civil case against the parents of the perpetrator. They may be charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor if they find out they knew about it and did nothing. Also, these kids could be taken from them and placed in foster homes.
Sexting is not a harmless joke as some people would think it is. It has a huge physical, emotional and legal damages for both the parents and the child.
Below are five steps that could help parents be sure their children are not involved in sexting:
The first approach may sound harsh in this Internet-dominated era but it is effective. Camera phones should not be bought for kids unless they have proven they deserve it by their behavior. We are in the technological era and most kids want to fit in and be cool but what is the essence of that if these kids have not shown you, the parents, that they have reached that maturity to handle camera phones. It would be practical to get them a simple phone without cameras.
Secondly, a healthy atmosphere should be built at home. High self-esteem should be built and encouraged at home. Kids should be made aware they are special and loved. Relationships between parents and kids should be open for any communication. In such atmosphere, the kid is less likely to give into peer pressure or forced to sext. Teens should be made aware their bodies are not things to be exploited or misused, but their bodies must be respected. Once this healthy attitude is instilled, sexting becomes a less acceptable option for them.
The third step is for parents to educate their kids on the dangers of sexting. Kids should be made aware that once a picture is posted on the Internet it stays there forever. It is never gone. These photos may be used against them in the near future if anyone digs a bit deeper online. This could affect them in future job searches. Also, they should be educated on the malice these photos could be used for. Child pornographers could gather these images, save them, alter them a bit and redistribute them on the dark web.
The fourth step is for parents to use parental control apps. mSpy parental control app has over 25 features to help parents monitor their kid’s devices. This will help them know if their children are receiving inappropriate messages or are involved in something morally degrading. Features like “photo and video monitoring” allows parents view all photos taken and sent. In addition, all social media messaging apps are monitored. So any message sent that includes an explicit or sexual content can be seen by the parent and the correct approach to dealing with the issue taken.
The fifth final step is for parents themselves to get educated on new trends on the Internet. Like Internet slangs their kids use so they will understand their form of languages pertaining to sexting.
In conclusion, sexting is not as trivial as most people claim it to be. Sexting gone ‘bad’ in kids can lead to serious ramifications. Every responsible parent would not allow his or her kid to go through the above consequences or even be open to a lawsuit that could lead to their children being taken away from them and placed in foster care.
Take action now and protect your kids. That is why there is an app called mSpy.