Feeling intimate and sharing intimate images, videos are one of the ways we build strong relationships with friends and lovers, an evident part of adolescent growth. However, teens should know that any private messages, pictures, or videos sent online can be shared with the whole school, not to mention the rest of the world.
The reality is that privacy and trustworthy relationships don’t match the temptations and technology’s limitations.
This is why, while it can be challenging, it is important to educate your daughter about sexting – sending sexual text messages, sharing provocative images, videos. This article will show you how to talk to your daughter about sexting.
As a parent, you can avoid being perceived as nagging, old-fashioned, or ignorant by not focusing on your feelings about the appropriateness of sending sexual messages, images. Just leave out your too personal perspective.
Instead, the talk should be much more objective, about the specific dangers and serious short- and long-term consequences of sexting.
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What is Sexting?
Sexting is the sending, receiving or forwarding of pornography or pornographic messages via text message or email. Although the term “sext” appeared more than ten years ago, the concept of exchanging or storing sexually-related images or messages is not new. Historically, these materials have been distributed via drawings, photos and videos.
Then, as the internet came into being, electronic devices and social media became tools to simplify and spread sexual materials easier and more powerful than ever. With just one click, a photo can be widely distributed to many others. And once this content has been spread, it will remain forever on the Internet, there is no way to permanently delete it.
Why should you talk to your daughter about sexting?
Obviously. You don’t want things to become too late to be handled. You don’t want your ignorance will leave your daughter a victim of sexting, and you know, negative effects of sexting will last for the rest of her life.
One mistake is that many parents assume sexting is harmless because, in reality, no sex happens. However, sexting is a form of sex – sending, receiving and transferring nude, pornographic photos, messages, videos such as nudity, sexual behavior or sexual emoticons.
Sexting often begins as a solicitation from teen to teen, presented in the form of a promise of privacy, proof of true love or popularity. However, many teenagers are wise enough to know that once pornographic images, videos become public, which are widely spread, they have to pay very high prices.
Your daughter may be subject to those body-shaming words, criticism of personality. Not only do they endure the pain, humiliation and cyberbullying from their friends, but some serious legal consequences can result from their sexual messages.
Several states have enacted and are proposing sex laws to prevent sexting in conversations and media. In many cases, minors who host or transfer nude images, videos can be charged with child pornography or in danger of having to register as a sex offender.
What is a good time to talk about sexting with your child?
As soon as your child is using cell phones or smartphones or other internet-connected devices. Be proactive and please, don’t wait until something goes wrong or you’re already found something on your child’s phone. This is a conversation that comes with receiving the phone. You might also know when and how you should let your child use the phone.
All your child may need to know is that some people use their phones for inappropriate things. And sexting is one of those. If they receive a message containing a picture that makes them uncomfortable, or being requested for nude picture, they need to give it to you immediately.
Tell your kids that they won’t get in trouble, you just want to talk to them about how to handle it. Remember, your child may be doing nothing wrong and still accidentally view inappropriate content or submit it to them.
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8 tips to talk to your daughter about sexting
“Hey dear, what do you think?”
Before starting a conversation about sexting, you proactively give information about sexting, ask your daughter what they think. Ask your child if they have ever heard of this and what they think about it.
You might get some sort of feedback and if you’re lucky, they’ll talk openly about it, letting you know what they know. (If you are not lucky enough, you might need to gradually create a more friendly talking environment for your daughter).
Sometimes it does help if a parent pretends he doesn’t know anything about it and has the child tell them what they know about sexting.
Don’t teach. Pay attention to your tone of voice
Don’t become too worried if you find something on your child’s phone or you hear some of their friends doing it. To understand your kids and their friends talking, you might need to know some terms related to sexting.
Remember – this is an opportunity for you to reach out to your child, open the door for future conversations with more sensitive problems. So, it is important not the thing you give but the way you give it.
Pay attention to your tone of voice, if the kids realize you are too serious or going to scold them, you are slamming this important door and push your kids away. (And they won’t talk to you about anything personal for a long time.)
Create an atmosphere of sensitive conversation
Talking to your daughter about sexting, things about sending a sex message/image/video can be a complicated conversation. The goal is to create an environment where your teenage daughters feel they can open up to you about sexting but also make them aware of the serious consequences.
Remember: Be friendly, gentle with your little girl.
Trying to reason with the kids can feel like a defeat for most parents as teenagers feel invincible, act impulsively and become exigent when being questioned by parents. So, just be patient. You are just your kids when years ago.
Schools often create conferences about problems related to risks on the Internet, and obviously, sexting will be one of them. Make sure you join these school meetings frequently to keep yourself updated about these topics and use this information as materials to start a conversation at home.
Don’t look down to because what many parents think is true but in fact, inaccurate and unfounded.
During those meetings and discussions, you can meet with other parents and know how they share sensitive problems with their children as well as other parenting tips.
Help your child set healthy boundaries
There are thousands of good times to discuss boundaries— set some distance between your child and everything else. When they were kids, we taught them how to close doors after they used the bathroom, we talked about dangers when strangers approaching them.
As they begin to mature, we help with things like what right content on TV they should watch, how much screen time is enough for them and how much money they spend on the things they want.
And when they reach puberty, we talk about the changes in their bodies, their relationships, and their sex – teaching them about the risks and how to avoid them. Talking to your daughter about texting is another important aspect of these conversations.
Your children will need to be taught why they should not engage in sexual sending, receiving, transferring and what to do if they feel that someone is pressuring them.
Even if the image, video or text is only for one person, once it is submitted or posted, it is out of their control. It is visible to billions of people out there and most likely cannot be removed from the Internet even if your child thinks it has been deleted.
Make small conversations
Don’t be mistaken that sacrificing 3, 4 hours to talk to your daughter about sexting is going to be effective because in the long run, with so much information collected, your daughter won’t be able to process all of that information.
Just regular, 20-minute chats are much more effective than just a boring, lengthy lecture about not sending sex messages and keeping safe on the Internet.
Don’t wait until the press reports about victims of sexting are children. Take the initiative to give your child information whenever you can. For example, when talking about the boom in mobile phones, tell your child about the safety boundaries, how to use cell phones and texting appropriately.
As your children reach the age of heterosexual relationships, talk more about mutual respect and balancing other relationships such as friends and family. The little chats don’t seem like a big deal, but this is a good foundation for the healthy, secure lines you’re trying to build.
Ask curiously and attentively about their school day, friends and school rather than making it sound like an interrogation. Conversations like this should happen throughout the child’s life, not just when there’s a problem.
We hope the article will give you a clear view of how to talk to your daughter about sexting. Every Internet threat appears everyday, so make sure you educate and update yourself fast enough. You can start with us (or others organizations for kids like UNICEF, UNDP, etc.).
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