With Representative Anthony Weiner's texting escapades all over the news it is a good time to revisit the issue of sexting with your kids. I just wrote a post on teenage sexting to help us better understand the issues. Here are some additional tips on sexting to get you started:
- Ask your child if they have ever received or seen a sext. Is it common at their school? Do they think it is a big deal? Why or why not?
- Make sure that you share your own feelings about sexting and set clear limits and consequences for online behavior. Include expectations about both posting, forwarding/sharing sexts, and pressuring others to send a sext.
- Remind your child that you are happy to be the "out" of an uncomfortable situation for them - "I can't do that, my parents would kill me if they found out! And they always find out!"
- Remind your child that once they post something online or send a text, they have lost control over it. Ask them to visualize their message posted in a very public space. Would they still send it if they knew if would be posted on the school bulletin board?
- Talk about the fact that while it might feel anonymous, they are creating a permanent "digital footprint" every time they write or post anything online.
- Discuss alternative, healthy ways to show a significant other that they care about them.
- Don't duck the hard conversations (note plural). Talk to your kids regularly about sex, sexual risks, sexuality, and decision-making.
- Discuss ways to communicate with their significant other about expectations, pressure, and consent.
- Make sure that your teen knows that they have have multiple caring and trustworthy adults they can go to if they need to talk.
- Model healthy appropriate behavior. Adults engage in sexting more than teenagers do!
Good luck! Do you have any other ideas or tips?
Erin Walsh, Mind Positive Speaker/ Trainer