Hot topic for sure from the title alone. Amy Williams, a social worker who specializes in teen behavioral health, developed some great tips and a colorful infographic to help parents navigate this area. Having grown up stretching cords on phones to get privacy, this feels like grabbing wet spaghetti! As Williams reports, the digital footprint issue isn’t going away, and the explosion of social media adds a whole new dimension to the risks and the parenting issues associated. Here are her insights on how we can be more aware in this sensitive area.
Cracking the Teen Sexting Code by Amy Williams
Parenting children in the digital age can be difficult. Many families are encountering dramatic issues regarding sexting and their teens. Let’s face it, we came of age during skin mags and hidden VHS tapes. Our sexual exploration didn’t involve social media or the Internet, we struggled through this phase of development without creating a digital footprint.
Experts have said that sexting is normal teenage behavior, it’s just the use of cell phones that have changed. Previous generations were able to keep our explorations private. However, today’s highly connected teens are exposing themselves to far more than a special intimate moment.
Many teens view sexting as a safe alternative to intercourse. Teens might feel that sexting is a smart choice in today’s sexually rich world, but their underdeveloped teenage brains might fail to adequately assess the risks associated with sexting. Whether they are just curious about sex or seeking an outlet for their new feelings, it is a risky behavior.
Decoding The Signs Your Child Is Sexting
Sexting is an easy act to disguise. Most teens rely on their cell phones to sext, because it is portable, has a camera, and easily connects them to other people. In the past, teens utilized text messaging, but today many teens are taking advantage of the ever changing social media platforms to sext.
While many teens are adapting their methods there is no safe way to sext, because everything posted online or digitally has the potential to be saved, forwarded, or retrieved. Teens are discovering new apps to cover their activity that create disguises like calculators to hide online activity.
Listed below are common warning signs your child is sexting:
- dimming screens
- hiding their phone
- using code words – GNOC (get naked on camera) or PIR (parent in room)
- a sudden spike in sexual curiosity
6 Ways Parents Can Help Curb The Temptation To Sext
The following tips are six ways we can help our children navigate the popular issue of sexting:
- Have a sext talk and include the dangers.
- Limit a teen’s access to data on their cell phone.
- Keep cell phones out of private areas like bedrooms.
- Create a contract that outlines rules and expectations of technology.
- Strive to keep an open line of communication between family members.
- Be aware of your child’s cell phone and Internet activity. Track what sites they frequent and how they handle social media etiquette.
Author Bio: Amy Williams is a social worker, specializing in teen behavioral health. As a parent of two teenagers, she is focused on spreading the word on positive parenting techniques and new technologies.