How to Prevent Your Teen from Sexting

Recommendations and advice on how to prevent your kids from sexting.

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How to Prevent Your Teen from Sexting

Emailing and texting sexually explicit content has become commonplace among many teenagers. In most cases – but certainly, not all – girls are sending boys nude or partially nude photos. Frighteningly, it seems many teens view sexting as “the new flirting.”  Sometimes sexting occurs within a romantic relationship. At other times, sexually explicit messages are being sent as a means to attract attention.  Peer pressure may also play a role as some teens think it’s “cool” to have explicit photos on their cellphones and others think they should share photos because “everyone’s doing it.”  Research studies vary slightly in their estimates of how many teens are sexting but most reports indicate somewhere between 20 and 50% of teens have sent or received sexually explicit material online or on their cellphones. it’s important to take a proactive approach to preventing your teen from sexting.

By Amy Morin, LCSW (article)

Talk About the Dangers of Sexting

Many teens don’t consider the emotional, social, or legal consequences that sexting can have on their lives. Educate your teen about the potential dangers that these types of messages can have. Hold frequent discussions about the potential consequences of sexting to ensure your teen is aware of how serious the issue can be.  If you’re embarrassed to bring up the subject, start by asking a question such as, “I’ve heard a lot of news stories about teens sexting.

Does that happen a lot?” You can also use the media as an example by showing your teen news stories that involve teenagers facing legal consequences for possessing child pornography after receiving sexually explicit photos of other minors.

Create a Behavior Contract

Create a behavior contract that outlines your expectations for your teen’s use of electronic devices.  Discuss the consequences – such as the loss of electronic privileges – that your teen will face if you discover sexually explicit content. Discuss your expectations about how your teen should respond if graphic material is received. Keeping nude photos of another teen could have serious legal implications.

Establish Cellphone Rules

Create clear rules about your teen’s cell phone use. Smartphones are the most common means that teens are transmitting sexually suggestive selfies and outright nude photos. Taking away your teen’s cell phone at bedtime is one way to decrease the likelihood that your teen will be tempted to send inappropriate content at night.

Monitor Your Teen’s Electronics Use

Let your teen know that you will be periodically checking the cellphone and computer. Make it clear that you may access the information periodically and your teen will likely resist the urge to send or receive sexualized content. Often, being able to tell friends sexting isn’t an option because, “My parents check my phone,” can help teens resist peer pressure more easily.

Hold Frequent Discussions About Sex

Frequent conversations about sex and sexuality are imperative to helping your teen make healthy decisions. Talk about what it means to be in a healthy relationship and discuss how to resist peer pressure. Talk about strategies your teen can use to decline requests for nude or partially nude photos or other sexually explicit content.

Acknowledge that sending graphic content is one way to get attention from a romantic interest, but also discuss the potential downsides to seeking attention in that manner. Help your teen learn more appropriate ways to attract attention and maintain healthy relationships.

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