In today’s world of widespread social media connectivity, it’s hard for parents to track their teen’s online interactions. While no parent likes to admit it, kids are sexting more often and at a younger age.
Most kids do not see it as a problem since they lack maturity concerning its dangers. For that, it’s crucial to address the topic with your tweens and teens.
Think about the best way to start the conversation depending on the age of your child as well as your parenting style.
1 Outline Your Expectations
First, remember to outline your expectations when you give your child their first mobile phone. Ask your child what they think is acceptable to send. Ask them if they would send such a photo to a relative or a teacher. Explain the importance of saying no. Your child has every right to say no to someone who’s asking for nude photos.
2 Explain the Risks of Sexting
Second, explain the risks of sexting. Ask your tween or teen to consider what could happen if a nude picture goes viral. You can use real life examples from the news, like that of Hope Witsell, the girl who commited suicide due to the harsh bullying she received right after sending a topless photo to a boy.
Make sure they know that any picture can go viral even if they thought it was deleted. Apps like Snapchat make sexting easier, and could give your child a false impression of security since images disappear or can be deleted. Though photos disappear, Snapchat states” it cannot guarantee that deletion occurs within a particular timeframe.”
3 Check Your Child’s Phone
Third, don’t hesitate to check your child’s phone from time to time. Parenting is still parenting even in the digital age. Moreover, if you discover your child has sexted, deal with the issue calmly, don’t shout. Don’t ask why have you done this; this will increase their embarrassment. Ask your child what they want to happen, and reassure them that the issue will be addressed .
What’s interesting is that countries like the UK have websites like Childline that gives advice to teens on different issues. For the sexting issue, Childline advises the kid to send the harasser a friendly Zipit photo. Zipit is an app that helps people control their chats.
Another advice given to the child is to report to the CEOP, the Child exploitation and Online Protection Center of the UK.
Though we do not have CEOP in Lebanon, the best thing you could do as a parent is to stop delaying the talk. Strive to build a strong relationship with your kids based on open communication, and trust.
It’s not just about the talk; it’s about instilling healthy morals and values in your child. When a child has a healthy moral framework they can distinguish right from wrong. This will help them deal with whatever inappropriate conversation they face.
Also published on Medium.