Many parents and caregivers find this a difficult topic to confront with their child, but it is imperative to have. Parents and Caregivers may find it is best to approach the subject directly, but not accusatorily. Discussing “sexting” can be uncomfortable for the child too, so bring it up in a way that doesn’t put them on the defensive or make them feel like they are in trouble.
Gone are the days when passing notes in class, or having a phone installed in your room are the most private modes of communication. Children are receiving their own social networking devices at younger and younger ages, and unless someone teaches them, they will not know the danger it can pose. There have been cases where a child is texting with someone they believe to be a friend when, in fact, it is a stranger trying to exploit them. However, more often than not, it is someone they know. It is important to explain that anything they send, whether it is a message, photograph, or video can be saved and distributed. A common belief in pre-teens and teenagers is that their friends or romantic interest “would never do something like that”. However, when they are pressured by friends, angry over a breakup, or simply had their phone or other device taken, children are more likely to make poor choices. Stalking, abuse, blackmail and embarrassment can result from inappropriate material getting into the wrong hands.
The best way for a child or teenager to protect themselves from predators is to only send things they would not be embarrassed to show anyone else. Teaching our kids how to take control of their image when using social media is very important; not only for how the world views them, but for how they view themselves.