It is hard work to be a parent, but it gets harder as those beautiful children who once followed you around turn into teenagers. Teenage years today are not the same ones that you would have experienced, nor are they the same as your parents would have experienced. Puberty is hard, but when you mix in the digital age and the exposure to social media into it, it gets much harder.
What Is Sexting?
Sexting is the practice of sending sexual messages via text or picture messages from one phone to another. For most teenagers, a suggestive conversation is a fun, harmless thing to do. The problems arise when the dangers of sexting become apparent, and this is where parents most need to be aware of the activities that their teenagers are partaking in. Sexting in teens is on the rise, and without awareness, it can become very murky very quickly.
Why Do Teenagers Sext?
Any parent knows that teenagers struggle to find their place in society, and sexting seems to be a part of growing up today. Teenagers have suggestive conversations to express what they perceive to be love, for more attention, peer pressure and – in some cases – coercion.
Sexting is more common in teens than parents would like to admit, with at least 1 in 4 teenagers receiving sexual messages and 1 in 7 sending them in the first place. In those figures, one in every teenager forwards those suggestive texts without consent, which is where the danger arises.
Sexting In Teens: The Dangers
There are plenty of dangers in sexting in teens, and we’ve listed a few of those below:
If underage teenagers are sending sexually explicit messages, this is considered to be child pornography. The content may also be further shared or exchanged, which is then a crime for distributing child pornography.
With social media rife with bullying and horrendous comments about the appearance of others, sexting content may be used to gossip, insult and intimidate your teenager.
Another danger of sexting is the possibility of the person receiving the messages threatening to share them with others. The teenager then feels embarrassed to ask for help.
All of this can lead to poor mental health, withdrawn behaviour and an unbelievable amount of pressure to share more sexually explicit photos and even videos.
Managing Sexting In Teens
The age for sexual consent varies from country to country, and it’s essential to explain to your teenagers the risks, dangers and consequences of sexting. Nothing is a secret once it’s online, and it is crucial to impress this upon your teenagers.
As a parent, you can download apps like Family Orbit to monitor your teenager’s phone for sexually explicit material. Still, more than that, you need to discuss it openly and help them to make responsible choices at all times. Your teenager needs to feel safe enough to report sexting to you and know that you won’t judge; so open conversation is necessary for success.