In March, 2009, USA Today reported that more than 2 dozen teens in more than 6 states were investigated on porn charges for sending nude pictures of themselves over their cell phones in this new phenomenon called “sexting.” In April 2009, Good Morning America also reported that tweens as young as 12, who aren’t yet sexually active, are sending sexually explict, pornographic images to their peers. The article went on to say that tweens too young to wear bras are posing topless or actually engaged in masturbation in these images. These are frightening statistics.
Sexting is a huge problem. It has become the “cool” thing to do with tweens and teens. One 14 year-old girl in the article when asked why she sent nude pictures of herself to a boy said “I felt like there was love that I never had…it really didn’t register in my mind what I was doing.” Needless to say, after breaking up with the boy, her pictures mysteriously made their rounds through the school and another boy ended up with it and then forwarded it on to the girl’s mother. When the girl asked the boy why he sent the picture out to others, his response was “you should have never broken up with me.”
The issue of sexting has become so huge that people who forward pornographic images of minors are being prosecuted. They should be! Moreover, today’s technology makes it easier and easier for these types of situations to occur. Parents are having a much harder time controlling what their children put on the internet, what they participate in and what they see on not just the internet but on their cell phones as well. More and more children have Facebook and Myspace pages and safety has become a huge issue for parents. I don’t care how much control one would argue that I have, I absolutely refuse to allow my 11 year old to have a Facebook, Myspace or any other social network page. When asked recently, my answer as you can imagine was “Absolutely NOT!” But in today’s society, it is absolutely accepted.
The article gave some great tips from Cybersecurity Expert, Parry Aftab. Here are 5 of them:
1. Find your children’s profile. Most children have more than one, but find them and scour their profiles online.
2. Tailor the profile to fit your child’s needs. You can make sure no personal information is accessible.. According to Aftab, knowing why your child is online will help you guide them and to make sure they are not taking any unnecessary risks.
3. Follow the 4 “P’s.” Don’t let your child post anything that Parents, Principals, Predators or the Police shouldn’t see. Everyone is looking and what you post on the internet stays forever.
4. Snoop on your children. You’re allowed to do that. Look at their profiles and that of their friends. Note from Diane: I always say to my boys…”tell me who your friends are and I will tell you who you are.” They hate this saying, but I pound it into their heads and usually, they end up finding out that I am right.
5. Use privacy settings. Make sure your children use the most restrictive privacy settings available. Aftab also suggests that children 13 and younger should not be using social networking sites at all. The sites are illegal for children of that age and are just plain too dangerous for them to be on.
BINGO! My sentiments exactly.
Peace & Blessings,