It is difficult and shocking, to say the least, for parents to find out that their tween or teen has been sending or receiving explicit photos (i.e. sexting). Sexting has become relatively common, according to Dr. Jeff Temple, a psychologist who has researched and published extensively in this area. Dr. Temple recommends talking to kids about sexting in the larger context of “the talk” that you have about sex, responsibility, digital citizenship, and consent. He gives the following advice:
— Remember that “the talk” is an ongoing conversation that should start early and emphasize healthy relationships and comprehensive sexual education.
— Become familiar and stay current with advances in technology.
— Download and learn popular sharing apps like Instagram and Snapchat.
— For younger kids, “friend,” “follow,” or “like” their accounts.
— For older kids, where autonomy is critical to development, you may opt to give more privacy. Consider employing an “I won’t check until you give me a reason” approach.
— Talk to your kids about sexting. Be sure they know about the potential risks associated with sending nude pictures.
— Avoid scare tactics such as: “If you send a nude picture, you’ll never get into college or get a good job.” While this may happen, it is unlikely, and you may lose any credibility you had on the subject.
If you think or discover that your tween or teen has sexted:
— While certainly unsettling, this does not mean your child is deviant, depressed, or a “bad kid.”
— Sexting is associated with sexual behavior, including future sexual behavior. Use this as an opportunity to begin or continue “the talk,” with an emphasis on healthy relationships and comprehensive sex education that includes abstinence and safe sexual practices.
— Consider a formal monitoring system of his/her cell phone and social media accounts.
You can find primers for parents about sexting online that may be helpful.
Given that you began your post with the statement that your son has already come out and you love him no matter what, it would seem that you have the foundation of a close relationship. This conversation can hopefully be an extension of that, as you educate your son about the risks of underage people sending explicit material, as it can be have both legal and social ramifications for him. Here is another article addressing this topic that may be helpful:
- This reply was modified 3 weeks, 1 day ago by Janet Duke.