Over the past decade, sexting has grown in usage. Not only do you hear about the accident slip-ups by politicians and celebrities caught sending pornographic selfies, but an increase in cases with tweens and teens.
For most parents, they have no point of reference from their own teenaged years. This is largely because texting is still a fairly new technology that has only been around for the past 20 years, or so. As a result, it can be difficult for parents to talk about sexting with their tween or teen simply because they were not faced with this temptation.
In addition, kids today often make new friends strictly online and have a group of followers and other “digital” friends, aside from actual physical friends they see in person. This makes it difficult for parents to keep on their child’s circle of friends and who’s who.
Furthermore, the number of tweens and teens that have and use smartphones have increased in recent years. Parents want their children to feel safe and have a means to get help when they need it, so it is natural to want to provide our children with smartphones.
However, one issue parents have is they find it difficult to stay current on the latest apps their kids are using to communicate. One day it is Facebook, then its Snap Chat, or Instagram. Tweens and teens tend to hop around apps frequently. For instance, Facebook used to be popular with tweens and teens, but once their parents and grandparents starting using it, they moved onto another app.
If that wasn’t enough to keep parents frustrated, let’s face it, teens are impulsive. When we were that age, we did risky things like climbing out our bedroom windows late at night to go meet up with our friends, even though we were grounded. Today, the risky behaviours for tweens and teens is being dared or challenged to send a sexually suggestive images of themselves to another.
Additionally, many teens use sexting as a means to let someone know they are interested in them. Rather than flowers, cards, or candy, they send a partially or fully naked picture of themselves to their love interest. Some teens even view sexting as a safe alternative to engaging in actual intercourse. However, once images are sent, the child no longer has control over them.
If their relationship goes up in flames, the images could end up online, on social media, and other such places. Teens do not think about the long term consequences of such actions. Nor are they fully aware of the legal implications as the images they are sexting are viewed as child pornography by our legal system.
As parents, learning how to communicate with your tween or teen about sexting is essential today more than ever. It is beneficial to seek advice on how to approach and talk about sexting with your teen with couples counseling and individual counselling for single parents.
Parents are free to openly talk about communication issues, how to get through to their teen and other concerns they have during counselling sessions. For more information or to schedule an initial counselling session, please feel free to contact Ellen Starr Marriage Counselling at 416-488-3102 today!