Teen Sexting: A Digital Nightmare for Parents and Teens
Written by WinGate Therapy, in Section Parent Resources
If you think your teen isn't sexting, you may be mistaken. It's an issue being being constantly discussed by experts, but parents are still struggling to understand the far-reaching consequences of teen sexting. The ramifications of teen sexting are more than you can imagine, some even lasting a teen's entire life. What about your child? What, if anything, can you do to secure your adolescent's well-being regarding sexting? How can you protect your child from its harmful effects?
Experts say that 30% of teens have participated in sexting. According to the experts a majority of teens participating in sexting have been pressured to escalate the cyber sexual activity all the way to real physical sexual encounters, including intercourse. 30%? That is outrageous and should give you cause for concern.
What You Don't Know Could Hurt Your Teen
Basically, “sexting” is the sending or receiving of sexual-oriented text messages, images, or videos. But there is more, much more. Smartphones and tablets have made sexting much easier to do, and at the same time easier to hide from parents. With a smartphone, an image can be made and sent out instantaneously. The sad news is that once it is “out there”, there is no control over how far it will go.
Right now the biggest influence of teenage sexting comes from peer pressure (just like every other harmful adolescent behavior). Kids are pressured into the cyber sexual activity. In studies teens have related that they feel forced into sending out inappropriate images of themselves.
Amongst teens, sexting has become a sport, a badge of honor, and a way to brag about themselves. And, there are those who do it because they believe they are “in love”. Regardless of why teens participate in sexting, the potential damage is all the same.
Five Things You Didn’t Know About Teen Sexting
1. Adolescents report that they “sext” because they are in love.
2. For girls, the experience of “sexting” is often associated with regret, shame, and embarrassment.
3. Bullying is often a component of why teens are pressured into “sexting”, and the bullying is deep underground and parents are often totally unaware.
4. Teens have lost scholarships, jobs, and other precious accomplishment after their “sexting” has gotten into the public for all to see.
5. Teens, especially girls, lie and cover up their sexting activities.
Sexting is Associated with Shame, Regret, Embarrassment AND Bullying
For all too many teens, especially girls, sexting is associated with serious regret, embarrassment, and shame. Emotionally, sexting can take a toll on an adolescent, especially when an image or text message goes beyond the intended recipient.
For those who are reluctant to sext, they may face a great deal of bullying by those who do. Shame and fear of loss is used to manipulate the reluctant parties into sending out inappropriate material. Whether a teen sexts or does not sext, the consequences of shame and regret can be one in the same.
For girls, sexting often ruins their reputation, and then the teasing, bullying, and manipulation can get worse. Once an image is in cyberspace there is no way to get it back. It can spread to places that can’t even be imagined. All too many young people have lost college scholarships, jobs, and other precious accomplishments because an image “got out” to the wrong people.
Five Things Parents Can Do To Protect Their Child From Sexting
1. Know more about technology, and create a policy of transparency as it pertains to internet-based technology.
2. Talk openly with your child about the obvious dangers of sexting.
3. Talk openly with your child about sex, pre-marital sex, and the consequences (in a non-judgemental way).
4. Be aware, and look for the warning signs and act on your hunches.
5. Always work to build a relationship where your child is not afraid to discuss any topic with you.
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