Ingredients A pinch of low self esteem, a spoonful of angst, a bucket of the common garden variety of ‘the need to fit in’, a cup of ‘I didn’t think’ , 500 grams of ‘I thought it was a joke’, one smart phone, one teen, one pic of said teen unclothed or partially unclothed.
Method Combine all ingredients with 1.2 billion smart phones world wide, 800 million Facebookers, 520 million Twitterers, 2 million and rising Instagrammers, heat and stir vigorously with the help of other teenagers, and watch the rising devastation.
Watch a video (with your teen) to see one possible result of this recipe Megan sends a sext
What can parents do:
Talk and Tell Explaining why it is inappropriate and what the moral and legal consequences are, no doubt helps. Not all teens sext. The consequences are nasty if they are charged: At 17 a teen sent a sext, 7 years later….. But many parents are talking to their teens these days. In every case I have dealt with, parents tell me that they have, ‘had the conversation’ and they don’t mean about the ‘birds and bees’. They are talking about ‘sexting’. Yet teens are still doing it. So what next?
Show and Tell Ask to see their photos, and censor them! But surely this is an invasion of their privacy you might and ‘they’ definitely say. Let me tell you a story: Once upon a time we took photos on film with a camera. To see them we had them developed and printed at the chemist. The parent paid for and collected them. The parent could censor them. In fact in those days if the photos were inappropriate the chemist would not print them! Doesn’t that sound, ‘so last century’! But it did mean that teens were accountable: to their parents, and to the chemist. Now there is no accountability. Teens liberally take photos with almost total freedom, safe in the knowledge that you will be too scared to ask to see them. Parents need to take back control especially in the early teen years. If they know that at any given moment you will ask them to show you their photos on their phone, on Facebook, on Instagram they will be more careful. At the moment we are crossing our fingers and hoping that they will know what is right. We must more involved and we must start now!
Other articles on this topic: Review bid in ‘sext’ cases, Cyber Backlash at First Love’s Break Up, High-Tech Flirting Turns Explicit, Altering Young Lives