How many teens are sexting? The answer may surprise you. One survey suggests, 1 in 5 teens admitted to posting sexually explicit pictures on-line. To help understand teen sexting behaviors," The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy and CosmoGirl .com conducted a survey with 653 teens (ages 13-19) to explore the sexual use of sending or posting sexually suggestive messages or texts. Some of their findings are listed below:
Teens that have sent sexually suggestive messages:
Who Teens are sending sexually suggestive images and messages to:
In another teen sexting study, Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project (2009) surveyed teens ages 12-17, relating to texting sexual images via cell phone, below are some of their findings.
According to these findings it's apparent that we all need to take a role in educating our teens about the negative consequences of sexting. We also need to empower our kids with the ability to "just say no" if someone asks them to do something they really don't want to or know that they shouldn't do. Below are some parenting tips to help you ensure your teen's exercising good judgment on-line.
1. Talk to teens about inappropriate and appropriate use of modern technology. One way is to outline your expectations by creating a computer/cell phone contract with your teen.
2. Have your teens take an internet safety class. Just like many kids have to take Driver's Education in order to prepare for getting their license, have your teen take an internet safety course.
3. Know who your teen is hanging out with both online and offline.
4. Make sure your teens on-line profiles don't have private or personal identifying information (e.g., phone numbers, addresses, etc.)
5. Randomly, have your teen share with you any photos in their phone and computer gallery. Also, make them make you a friend on Face Book or share their username and password with you to any of their social networking sites. This way you can periodically check to make sure everything their posting is acceptable.
6. Teach your teen to not respond impulsively to anything on-line or via text. Filtering can help a trigger happy teen from making a permanent, potentially life altering mistake. Encourage your teen to evaluate the consequences of posting their thoughts or pictures before hitting the send button.
7. Make sure your teen understands that once pictures are out there, there's no way of getting them back, even if they're deleted from their phone or computer. This is a scary reality about operating on-line. Let your teens know that www not only stands for "World Wide Web" it also stands for "Whole World's Watching."
8. Most importantly, encourage an open dialogue between you and your teen. Set aside some time each day to just listen and talk with your teen about what's going on in their life.