In our electronic age of mobile phones, instant messaging, e-mail, and other avenues of communication, children have a large selection of tools at their disposal to keep in touch with friends and family. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with electronic gadgets and devices. However, the danger lies in misusing these devices to engage in improper conduct, such as sexting, which involves viewing and forwarding nude or semi-nude photos of themselves or others.
Acknowledge that Sexting Occurs!
As a parent, it is easy to point the finger at others, and focus on their failings. But it is hard for some parents to take stock of the fact that their children could also be involved in improper conduct. Sexting is a very real aspect of modern day life for teenagers and pre-teens. Ignoring this fact will not make it go away.
Instead, parents need to admit that it goes on and that their children could very well be taking part in sexting. An obstacle that parents face is overcoming the embarrassment in addressing the issue of sexting. But once they acknowledge that this type of behaviour occurs, they will be better equipped to deal with it.
Address Sexting Before it Occurs
Talking to your children about sexting does not mean that they are already engaging in this type of behaviour; nor does it mean they will ever take part in it. Just as instructing your children about sex education will not make them sexually active, the same is true when talking to children about the dangers and consequences of sex and teenage pregnancy in general.
The initial embarrassment cannot be avoided, but it will be easier to carry on the conversation once you have asked some pointed questions on the subject. If your children have their own mobile phones with text messaging, ask them if they know what sexting is and then ask them if they have heard of any incidences of sexting at school or among their friends. Asking questions can help to break the ice and make it easier for parents to address the fact that sexting is not acceptable, and that their children will face serious consequences if they engage in sexting.
Talking about sexting is not a comfortable conversation starter. However, parents who successfully overcome their misgivings and embarrassment can help to prevent their children from engaging in such improper conduct and it can also protect children from becoming victims of sexting.