Sexting…Why in the world would your child do that?

Sexting, sending racy or sexually explicit messages or photos via cell phones and computers, is becoming an alarmingly common practice among teens.  It’s a felony, as law enforcement qualifies sexting as minors in possession of pornography.  So why don’t kids believe they are doing anything wrong?

I’ll tell you why!  Sending a message to someone without being able to see their reaction doesn’t give teens the opportunity to see how their message was received.  If you tell a joke at a party and no one laughs, or some people roll their eyes or frown, you instantly know your message was not appropriate.  A person can tell how to behave by the social cues they receive from others.

If a teen has to look into the eyes of another teen and say “hey, take off your shirt and let me see you naked”, that teen will most likely pause and either feel a bit embarrassed or reluctant to do so because someone else might see them or their parents might walk in.  There are tons of checks and balances on behavior if it’s done in person or in public.

When kids send words or pictures via phone/computer they don’t get any immediate feedback on their content, its like out-of-sight-out-of-mind.  Therefore, it seems harmless.

So what’s a parent to do?  Its not enough to just tell your teen not to do sexting, its wrong, those pictures will be in the public forever.  Even though all of that is true, it wont keep teens from sexting.

Instead teach and insist your teen spend more time in person with their friends so that they can practice social skills and learn reactions to their inappropriate behavior.  Your family rule should be, “for every text their needs to be face-to-face connection with their peers”.  In order to keep your children safe you can visit to view your children’s messages.  Don’t be afraid to be ‘in the know’ about your kids safety, Dr. Ann