Texting, Sexting, and The Internet

From smartphones to tablets to computers, it’s no secret our young people are constantly plugged in. While digital technology is a great resource, sometimes it can lead teens to do things in the digital world they wouldn’t do in real life, like sending nude or semi-nude photos of themselves. In a survey by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, 20% of teens said they’d sent or posted a nude or semi-nude photo of each other.

Why do teens sext?

There are lots of reasons teens say they sext. Some say it feels like a natural part of flirting. Others feel pressured into sexting by their partner or by a friend. Sometimes teens are sexting in response to a sext they received. About a quarter of teens say they feel more comfortable sending explicit pictures, videos, and texts than they would saying or doing those things in real life. 

What can you do?

  • Remember to talk about sexting during your ongoing conversation about love, sex, and relationships. 
  • Make sure your teens understand that their online behavior is public and permanent. Even if they have second thoughts and delete a photo or comment that they posted online, someone may have already read it, forwarded it, or copied it.
  • Talk with your teen about what they can and can’t share online. Personal information, like addresses and telephone numbers, should never be posted. Let children know that they can ask you if they are unsure if something’s OK to share.
  • Talk with your kids about why they shouldn’t gossip, bully, or spread rumors online. Make sure they understand that it’s just as important to use good manners online as it is in real life.
  • Set time limits for how many hours your child can use their cell phone and internet.

Don’t be afraid to monitor.

You’re not invading their privacy. It’s all information that they’re making public online. 

  • Keep the computer in a public area of the home—not in a bedroom—so that everyone can see what your teens are doing online.
  • Set up social media profiles for yourself on all platforms that your child is using. Insist that they friend or follow you, and let them know you’ll be checking up on their posts.
  • Be open about how you’re monitoring online activity. Let them know what activities you’ll be monitoring and what you’re looking for, that way everyone in the family will understand the rules. 
  • Have your children show you where the privacy settings are on every social media platform that they use. Make sure they know how to adjust the settings.

Share this video with your kids for a short overview of staying safe on the internet: