It may not be something that you want to think about your teen taking part in, but sexting is a very real issue that many are facing today. It’s uncomfortable for parents to think about and of course uncomfortable to discuss with teens. And, none of us think our teens are taking part in these types of things, right?
Not only could your teen be sexting but he may also be getting himself into potential trouble. There are several dangers that parents and their teens need to be aware of. How familiar are you with sexting? Do you, yourself, know about the dangers that could be facing your teen?
By learning more about sexting, you’ll be in a better position to educate and protect your teen.
What is sexting?
Even if you don’t want to think about it, the reality is that sexting is taking place everywhere and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon. It’s not just teens who are taking part in sexting. Elementary school-aged children have been recognized as sexting and finding themselves in a world of trouble.
It’s very important that you understand what sexting is and the associated risks and learn how to speak with your teen about it in a healthy and age-appropriate way.
Sexting can take on a few forms but may include flirty and provocative text messages, images, and even videos. It can be something that both parties agree to, or it may be something that one party sends to the other without consent. Any gadget with access to the internet could be used to take part in sexting. A mobile phone, a tablet, a laptop, and even a video gaming console.
There are several apps that can be used just for the purpose of sexting, but teens can use any app with a messenger feature. Whether that’s a social media app, a dating or hookup app, or something else like a gaming app.
What are the potential dangers of sexting?
Your teen may think that sexting is harmless. After all, messages and the apps used to send them will make claims of being secure and encrypted. Teens don’t always consider the consequences of their actions and behaviors. Helping your teen understand the potential dangers of sexting may help him to recognize that it’s not harmless.
- Even with security features and encryption, there is the risk that your teen’s images and conversations will be made public to others. This can lead to high stress levels for a young person who feels humiliated and bullied. There is also the increased risk of anxiety and depression, self-harming, and thoughts of suicide.
- Teens who engage in sexting are more likely to become sexually active. They may not think of the consequences of being sexually active, which could result in pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases.
- Predators are really skilled at conning underage internet users to feel like they are their friends and more. Your teen might think he’s speaking with someone his own age, but it could in reality be someone twice his age.
Sexting can see teens losing friendships, relationships, confidence, and so much more. Another concern is that the images or videos your teen sends could become public at a later point and have a marked impact on his college career and his future employment opportunities.
Why should you have a talk with your teen about sexting?
It can be difficult to speak about internet safety with your teen but it’s still an important conversation to have. If teens are at least aware of the boundaries set, they may be more likely to stick with them. If your teen has the risks of sexting defined and explained, it could help him to stand up to the peer pressure he feels if someone else is trying to get him to sext.
It’s also important that your teen understands that you’ll support him and understand without judgment if he needs to talk about sexting and any situation that he finds himself in.
How can you monitor your teen’s activities?
Your teen deserves privacy, even when he’s online. However, it’s also important that you are aware of the things that he’s getting up to when he’s online. Finding that comfortable middle ground is not going to be easy. It is very likely that your teen will get defensive, argumentative, and secretive if he thinks you’re going to be reading his messages to other people.
So, just what can you do?
- Encourage open communication with your teen.
- Don’t allow him to use social media platforms unless you are able to follow him and engage with him.
- Establish and reinforce rules surrounding social media, use of apps, and communications with other people.
- Remind your teen that the use of technology is a privilege and not a right. If he breaks the established rules, be willing to restrict his access to devices.
- Agree with your teen that you may look at the apps he uses on each of his devices. It’s a fine line to walk when it comes to reading the messages that he exchanges with other people. Only you can make that decision and determine how it may potentially impact the relationship that you have with your teen.
- If your teen has given you reasons to mistrust him, there are tracker apps that can be installed on his devices. This may be seen as a violation of his trust, so it is important to think about the benefits versus the downsides.
Be aware of the people your teen is talking to online. Also, be aware of the services and apps that he uses when he’s online. It’s important to have awareness as much as is possible, without doing too much to violate the trust your teen has in you. Keep in mind that if your teen feels like he is being judged or like you are pushing him too far, he may escalate his behaviors and rebel against the boundaries you’ve established.
The things that your teen does online can take a toll on his mental health. It’s a good idea to consider therapy for your teen so that he can work on his self-confidence and learn to be better at communicating when he is struggling or faced with difficult decisions.
If your teen is struggling with his mental health or has behavioral concerns, reach out to HelpYourTeenNow. We can connect you and your teen with the resources that you need to get things back on track.