Sexting- What a Parent Can Do?

By John Thurman

He came into my office visibly upset we shared a quick greeting and before you know it he shoved a cell phone close to my eyes and said, “Look at this!” I was thrown for a loop when I began to focus on the screen of his fifteen year old daughter’s cell phone. It was her sans blouse and supporting garments. First of all there is no woman young or old that I need to see other than my wife. This still somewhat shocking episode, but it began a new phase of my counseling practice, working with parents and their teens after the teen has been busted for sexting.Since that cold winter day a little over a year and a half ago I have worked with a dozen or so teens and their families coming to terms with this phenomenon.

How has Sexting happened?

First of all teens are not well known for impulse control, but up until the advent of the camera phone and web cams, the photos of nude and semi-nude teens was regulated to “Girls Gone Wild,” and other shady and pornographic sites, but that has all changed and parents need to wake up and smell the coffee.

Manipulating Parental Ignorance

What most parents don’t realize is that their kids can sometime play them for the fool. You don’t have to be a techno wizard or a curator of pop culture to know a little bit about Facebook, My Space, and tweeting on Twitter. In an article from the current Reader’s Digest, Pamela Paul, author of Pornified: How Pornography is Transforming our Lives, Our Relationships, and Our Families, “It is appalling…Among girls and boys, porn has become increasingly accepted, even as kind of cool.” A far cry from sneaking a peak at you older brother’s Playboy. Now, nude and semi-nude images of young men and women are a mere click or two away from any internet user.

You are the Parent!

Principle 1 - You are the parent, you pay the bill, you own the phone, you have a right and responsibility to be a good watchdog.

Principle 2 - Get out of denial and learn how to check up on your kid. Privacy has to do with changing clothes and going to the bathroom, not ignoring all of their tech communication.
Resources to Protect your Teen

There are a number of key things you as a parent can do to be effective in lowering the risk to your teen. Remember you are the parent-you have every right to have access to your child internet accounts and cell phone, after all, you do pay for them. Forget about their privacy, except when it comes to using the bathroom and dressing. Be nosy, know where they are going and where they have been. Here are some resources that can help you protect your kid from the dangers of Sexting.

www.wiredmoms.com - you should really check this group out, they will show you how to check up on you kids. Or visit their Twitter page at http://twitter.com/wiredmomsCell Phone Spy Elite-a device from www.security.com that retrieves deleted text messages from cell phones.Sage Eyes, from internet safety.com which tracks your kids instant messaging, monitors online social networks, and can impose online minute restrictions.www.websafety.com -software you can load into your kid’s cellphone and computer alerts that will advise you if inappropriate content is going out.www.yoursphere.com -a fairly safe social network LMK, for “Let Me Know,” is based on the Girl Scouts site lmk.girlscouts.org where girls can talk to other girls about internet safety.

Keep buying those cookies!

* Another way to learn more about teens and sexting is to watch this link from Good Morning America, http://www.abcnews.go.com/GMA/story?id=7337547&page=1

About the Author:
John Thurman is a counselor, speaker,and writer who focuses on helping people learn to develop resilience by bouncing back from setbacks that they have experienced in their personal lives, and relationships. He has been married over thirty-five years and has is based in New Mexico. Find out more by visiting his website at http://www.johnthurman.net

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