Any idea what your kid is sending/receiving via their cell phone? Ever thought to ask, or better yet have a proactive conversation on point?
Here is what we know—today cell phone are far less about phone calls and much more likely to be used for text messaging and other applications—in essence they are mini-computers with the same capabilities and related concerns. (note: if you haven’t talked with your kids about the home computer, just transfer these comments to that conversation too) Put simply, what your son/daughter might think is just some innocent fun within a relationship can be distributed to a wider audience and/or cause for criminal proceedings.
What are we talking about? The fairly recent ‘sexting’ phenomenon is just starting to be better understood by researchers and youth development experts—what we are learning is indeed troublesome. For example, one survey suggests 20% of teens have “sent or received sexually suggestive, nude or semi-nude” photos through cell phone or e-mail. Reportedly, most of that traffic was intended to be between boyfriends and girlfriends, but approximately 11% sent them to strangers. Wow.
A percentage of this seemingly harmless ‘sexting’ can be construed as child pornography—rather than ‘flirting’ as perhaps intended—plus many teens in the survey said sending such content had an effect on their real life relationships (i.e. more likely to ‘hook up’ than before) with recipients. Double wow.
Try competing for the cheerleading squad, student body president or a college scholarship with images of your you-know-what(s) out there in cyberspace for almost anyone to see. It makes no sense—but it is happening more with each passing day—so parents, educators and others must led the charge against this highly inappropriate behavior.
See www.TheNationalCampaign.org/sextech for more survey results, tips for teens and parents plus other relevant materials. You can check out www.CosmoGirl.com for interesting teen perspectives on sending/receiving sexually suggestive content.