While being parents you always praise the advancement of cellphone technology, you must also be aware of the dangers of sexting that might put you in great concern if you have teenagers at home. If you have a hint that your kid may be involved in the act, you must also realize that it is not a crime that he or she is involved in. Actually, teenagers often engage in sexting. They see it as an innovative and experimental activity. It helps them to explore their body and that of the others. Something which they have never experienced earlier.
Is it really that serious?
The concern of the parents is obvious. The act of sexting involves legal implications, health concerns, and mental changes. These might be detrimental for the child’s healthy development. The immediate drawback of sexting is that it might create a strong ramification among the sender of the message as well as his or her peer group. This is especially the case when the image concerns nudity or other sexually explicit materials.
Sexting also causes distracting attention and diminished concentration. This ultimately hampers the academic life of a child. Although some countries also lay strong legal actions against the act, the invasion into one’s private life by virtue of sexting, whether your kid is directly involved or not, might have a lasting impact on him or her.
Why teenagers engage in sexting?
In most cases, teenagers are aware of the adverse impact of their online reputation or the negative consequences of sexting. Certain extensive researches reveal some of the predominant factors that lead to sexting among children.
One of the vital reasons is the pressure of the peer group and the sense of inferiority complex as a result.
Issues of self-esteem among friends and the urge to gain value among friends often instigate teenagers to involve in sexting.
A sheer romantic gesture, as a consequence of school-level crush or infatuation, is also the cause for the act.
The urge for sexual exploration is another chief factor behind the same.
A grown-up feeling or a sense of rebellion among teenagers also prompt them to engage in sexting.
There are times when teenagers get involved in sexting much to their innocence as a mere sexual favor in return of any other service they might have received from someone.
The dangers of sexting
Sexting can be so serious that those involved in the same can invite charges of child pornography brought against them. Further, they can face probation and have their names enlisted permanently in the list of sex offenders. Thus, children involved in the act either directly or indirectly can often land themselves behind the bars. The humiliation and embarrassment received by any of the partners involved in sexting can also be so strong that it can make them suicidal.
What can be done?
There is no reason to think that your teenage kid can never get involved in sexting as the act never indicates any sure shot factors behind the same. Therefore, instead of arguing the integrity of your child, it is essential to know the measures to prevent it.
One of the most important ways of preventing your teen child from indulging into the act is by means of education. Create a non-threatening ambiance for your child and talk openly about the subject. In the process, inform him or her about the stern legal consequences concerning the act and the mental and physical impacts of sexting too. Educate him or her about the importance of digital privacy and online reputation.
Talk to them:
Discourage him or her against the circulation of any sexually explicit message he or she might have received. If you find that your kid is already involved in the act, talk to his or her school authorities, peer groups and any reputed child psychologist to handle the case skillfully.
Be a role model:
Set up a healthy atmosphere at home where the kid feels connected with every member of the family and never left out.
Limit cellphone use:
Limit the use of cellphones during teenage years. Keep the leash within your control by monitoring the cellphone of your child regularly. If the matter is serious enough, it won’t be bad if you do so in the absence of his or her knowledge.
If you discover your teenagers engage in sexting, do not panic. Never adopt physical or verbal abuse as that would make the matter worse. Handle the situation as tactfully as you can. Following the above-mentioned points would definitely help you in easing out the situation.
Before you go…
As a parent, you might feel prepared to go to any lengths to keep your child from harm’s way. This might even lead you to snoop in their lives. While it is necessary to know what goes on in their lives, there is a fine line between ‘being there’ and ‘snooping’. Read on to know to which extent you can or should snoop around in your teenager’s life.
Is it appropriate for parents to snoop on their kids?
Dealing with teenagers is not an easy matter for any parent. This is the phase in life when teenagers have a lot of issues going inside them and they try to find themselves in the best possible way. They become withdrawn, evasive and prefer their own privacy, rather than being with the rest of the family as they used to before entering the teen phase. There are times when parents are exasperated beyond a point when they can not get any reasonable answers from teenage children.
Parents get worried when their teenager does not share any information with them as a family. There are doubts in the parents who naturally assume that the teenager is up to no good. Parents, in fact, need to be more understanding, more observant, discuss with empathy and to gain the trust of the child. This may enable them to work on any issues or problems the teenagers may be harboring.
1. When to snoop
Parents ought to keep in mind certain aspects which entails prying into the privacy of teenagers’ domain. Of course, sometimes it becomes relevant for parents dealing with withdrawn, secretive teenagers to resort to the measures of snooping. Parents have to also understand when they can actually snoop, to make sure that things are alright. Parents also need to be aware of what their children’s’ whereabouts, with whom and what they are doing. It is the responsibility of parents to ensure that their teenagers understand as to what extent and areas of privacy can be appropriate.
When it comes to snooping, it is a matter of concern that parents ought to study carefully before resorting to it. Snooping in itself means sneaking around in the private areas of the teenager’s life, which is basically the parent’s need to satiate their own curiosity and suspicions. Snooping at this rate is dependent on the seriousness of the matter which parents have with the teenagers.
Unless there is a genuine reason that a child may be up to something which could harm him or her, the parents have to be very cautious when invading the privacy of teenagers. If you really feel that teenagers are up to some mischief, then it is alright to intervene even by snooping. This may, in fact, put a halt to any further damage before it goes out of hand.
Before snooping, it is important to observe for any warning signals like change in mood, behavior, and personality of your child. If you see them changing friends at the drop of a hat, constantly lying, substance abuse or drastic fall in academic performance, then you ought to check out seriously.
2. Why you should not snoop
No matter how agitated parents may be with their teenagers, it is always better to be cautious when it comes to snooping. It is important for parents to quietly and patiently observe their teenagers in various aspects. This could entail, observing the child while dropping off to school, their behavior at school, discussing topics close to them, watching teen movies with them and taking an interest in their fictional characters rather than real friends. More than anything, parents need to watch out about what is going on in their own homes. Teenagers sometimes sneak out at night or day to get away with friends without parents’ knowledge.
Parents can discuss directly, firmly and without passing judgment about their behavior. Choose the right time to casually broach the subject and keep your emotion under control. Teenagers are more receptive when they can discuss one on one rather than turning defensive if parents are more empathic.
Snooping is the last resort
If you still can not break through to your teenager, then talk to people and parents of other teenagers on issues affecting the teens. Hone your parenting expertise by attending lectures, parent-teacher meetings, and workshops. Get feedback on students’ difficulties, mood and social behavior at school. This might give you a better idea about dealing with your own teenager.
If all these fail and you still have the niggling doubt that something is not right, then use snooping as the last resort. However, remember that in your effort to do something genuine may actually lead to more destruction. You may end up losing the respect of your child, the mutual trust and the previous warmth of a parent-child relationship. Ultimately, it is also comforting to know that teenagers are not all heartless. They do understand the need for parents to keep them safe and protected for their own benefit.