Should parents talk to their teenage kids about sexting? An expert on the subject is speaking out and dishing some advice on how parents can bring this topic up with their children.
Saleema Noon, a sexual health educator who wrote the book, "Talk Sex Today: What Kids Need to Know and How Adults Can Teach Them," said that it's understandable that parents might find it difficult to broach the topic with their teenagers. However, she recommends that it's best to start having the conversation on sexting early on, even if the moms and dads think their children will not likely to engage in the behavior.
With kids having easy access to connect to the world via smartphones and other gadgets, the situation might make kids vulnerable to pressure and curiosity. Sharing personal information, including photos and videos, might be harmless for some, but who's to say they won't be sharing something very personal that might cause their reputation harm later on?
"Our kids unfortunately are exposed to so much more than we think, sooner than we think," said Noon, via CBC. If parents use a proactive approach with their teenagers, or establish an open and ongoing conversation about the way they behave on the internet, then it could make discussions on sexting less awkward.
Noon also said that parents should emphasize consequences to their teenagers. A sensitive photo they have shared digitally in the past could still come back to haunt them, and might cause problems if they're trying to get into a university or a company.
"We need to really help them understand the long-term consequences of what they do today and how it can impact them later on in life," said Noon. Connect Safely notes that sexting is illegal in some states. There have been instances where some teens have been prosecuted for supposedly distributing porn.
In a 2013 study on teen sexting, which was published on the Archives of Sexual Behavior, at least 20 percent of 14 to 18-year-old kids among 600 respondents have admitted to sharing sexy content on their cellphones. Nearly half of the respondents also stated that they have received sext -- or sexual text -- and have forwarded these to their friends.
Aside from talking, Noon suggests that parents should also be on the alert about their kids' digital activities. If possible, set up rules and consistently implement this. Learn more about sexting and teenagers in the video below.
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