Sexting and Your Teen: Get the Facts

Two girls telling a shocking secret|www.parentinghighschoolers.com

Written By Melanie Studer

Melanie Prather Studer has spent the last thirty years as a mother and teacher- preschool through middle school. When her kids became teenagers, Melanie started keeping notes and doing research to help her children get a head start on getting into college and ultimately out into the real world. She shares real world ideas and solutions for raising teens in today’s world.

November 3, 2020

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This is a guest post. Sexting and your teen is such a huge issue with our kids. As a teacher, I know kids are getting themselves into trouble with this issue ALL the time. Please inform yourself and then your teen!

Christy Monson established a successful counseling practice in Las Vegas, Nevada, as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. She also practiced in Salt Lake City, Utah for several years before her retirement.

  • B.S. Degree from Utah State University
  • M.S. Degree from University of Nevada at Las Vegas

Christy Monson, LMFT and Heather Boynton are the authors of Stand Up to Sexting, An Open Conversation for Parents and Kids. It’s full of examples of possible sexting problems you can discuss with your kids. It’s available on Amazon.

*This post may contain affiliate links.  This means, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click the link and make a purchase.

Hand holding a cell phone with the word "sexting" crossed out|www.parentinghighschoolers.com

Sexting: An increasing problem among teens.

Sexting is a subject I never thought I’d get involved with, but the more I worked with victims in counseling, and the greater social media availability is today, I see it as a looming problem—the elephant in the room, if you will.

None of us can turn a blind eye to sexting and our teens. According to one research study about fifteen percent of our kids are involved in sexting.

  1. About a third of all middle school and high schoolers have been the brunt of rude sexual comments or jokes.
  2. 2 It can touch all of our kids in some way or another, even if it’s just their friends or kids they know. Let’s address it and give the kids some tools to keep themselves safe.
  3. Sexting can also lead to addiction. Research shows that sending a sexy message can lead to an increase of the neurotransmitter, dopamine, in the brain and make you feel like you’ve taken a drug.
  4. When the dopamine spikes, it can lead its victim to any form of addiction: pornography, alcohol, drugs, and other escapes from life. Did you know that nude, or partially nude pictures, texted or shared on social media among kids constitutes child pornography and jail time can be the consequence?
  5. Know the laws of your state because all areas of the country are different. Talk to a local police officer. There’s one at your kid’s school. Become acquainted so you’ve got some knowledge of your local laws.

Here’s an all-too-common story that I hear.

Vanessa was invited to a summer swim party with the popular kids. She’d never been asked before and was excited to go.

“There’ll be alcohol,” her older brother, Ben, said. “I went to a party there once. I left when everyone got drunk and didn’t go again.”

“Not a problem for me,” Vanessa said. “I’m not going to drink.” She went shopping for a cute new swimsuit.

At the party, some of the girls’ outfits were so revealing they made Vanessa feel uncomfortable. Some of the boys snapped pictures and took sexy videos.

Vanessa stayed in the background, feeling trapped. She wanted to leave, but couldn’t think of an excuse.

Vanessa took a sip of punch. It was spiked so she set the glass back on the table. Several boys bypassed the punch and pulled out their own brown bags. The drunker and louder everyone got, the more uncomfortable Vanessa felt.

Boys and girls began posting pictures on Instagram and Snapchat. Even though she didn’t want to, they pulled Vanessa into some of the photos.

By midnight Vanessa slipped away from the party without saying anything to anyone. The next day, she heard that some parents had called the police.

An investigation underway, accusing the party-goers of posting underage pornography. Vanessa felt scared. She was in some of the pictures.

What could Vanessa have done differently? What should she do now? What could her brother Ben have done differently? What could he do now?

Discuss this story with your teens.

What do they have to say about it? Listen to their thoughts.

Many times, they come up with better ways to avoid this kind of activity than we do. This is a great way to assess where their thinking is.

Be part of your kids’ social media lives. Talk with them before things go wrong. Ask their opinions and listen, listen, listen.

What’s their favorite new app? Is there a new social network they want to join?

It’s also important as kids are growing up for everyone to know what your family stands for. Kids are questioning a lot of issues at this age. They’re being exposed to new ideas.

Bounce these ideas around as a family and let the kids know what you believe, what your standards are, and where you’re coming from. Develop an open conversation so you’re the one they come to with a question or problem.

Here are a few other ideas to consider talking about. Address the fact that pictures sent to friends become part of our digital footprint, and we have no control over who screen shots them or where they go.

It’s important to discuss what will happen to the pictures if a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship ends. Saying no is a difficult task, when peer pressure is in full force.

Help kids develop a plan and know what to say when a situation turns sour. Emotions can become intense and friendships ruined when the pressure is on. Discuss the possibility of being assaulted by cyberbullies.

The after effects of cyber bullying can be devastating. Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress for victims can become all too real.

Discuss these situations with your teen. Decide together a good way to handle them. Kids are smart and have good ideas. Work together to develop a plan that will work for your family.

Christy Monson, LMFT and Heather Boynton are the authors of Stand Up to Sexting, An Open Conversation for Parents and Kids. It’s full of examples of possible sexting problems you can discuss with your kids. It’s available on Amazon.

1.Mori, Camille, et al. Association of Sexting With Sexual Behaviors and Mental Health Among Adolescents: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. JAMA Pediatrics, June 17, 2019. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2019.1658

A helpful website

An Additional Site

Wow! This is a lot of information that our kids need to be made aware of! I just was able to watch the cyberbullying and sexting lesson be taught in my classroom by another teacher in my district.

One thing that I was unaware of was this: a possible consequence could be that a teenager can be put on the sexual predator’s list. This is a life long designation.

Please make sure that you and your teen take sexting very seriously.

 

I would love to stay in touch! Make sure you subscribe to my Parenting High Schoolers newsletter for more articles about surviving and thriving with teenagers. Simply enter your information below and you will be all set! You can also like my Facebook page, and follow me on Pinterest and YouTube! I look forward to seeing you again!

 


Hand holding a cell phone with the word "sexting" crossed out|www.parentinghighschoolers.com

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