Parenting Tips on Sexting

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?

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Erin Walsh, Mind Positive Speaker/ Trainer