New Teen Trend: Sexting

As technology becomes more and more prevalent in our lives and the lives of our children, we often find ourselves wondering what the next big trend will be. Currently, the new trend for high school age adolescents is something called “Sexting”. I’m sure your kids know what Sexting is, but for those of us that are a little older, I’ll explain. Sexting is the sending of sexually explicit text messages or pictures by cell phone. In an article presented by the Indiana Youth Institute, research showed that 20% of teens have engaged in Sexting, and that older teens are more likely to have engaged in Sexting than younger teens. This is a very disturbing trend, as some courts have decided to prosecute children who engage in Sexting as sex offenders.

It’s up to parents like you to monitor your children’s use of cell phones. Unlike phone calls, texts are saved on the phone, and can be sent to anyone else the owner of the phone wishes to send them to, even without the original sender’s permission or knowledge. Help protect your teens from making a mistake they might come to regret. I’ll put the link to the Indiana Youth Institute’s website at the end of this post, but for those of you who are busy, and don’t have time to read the article right away, I want to share some of its tips with you.

I know it can be difficult to ask your child to see their cell phone, or even to monitor their use of their cell phone, but this is the best way to prevent your children from sending Sexts. At night, when it’s more difficult to monitor cell phone usage, ask your children to charge their phone in your bedroom, or in a common room such as the kitchen. Ask your child to turn their phone off while they are at school, another difficult time to monitor cell phone usage. This also encourages your teens to focus more on class, and less on texting during class. Remember to set guidelines for cell phone usage with your children, and if they break those guidelines, have punishments in place, and stick with your punishments.

For more tips, and more detailed research on the subject, visit the Indiana Youth Institute’s issue Brief on Sexting at http://www.iyi.org/resources/doc/Issue-Brief-SEXTING-Aug09.pdf.

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