What is Sexting? Is your child engaging in this activity online? Most parents have at least heard of the term "sexting" which is used to describe a combination of the words "sex" and "text messaging" and describes the act of sending sexually provocative messages or visual images to and from cell phones and computers. While teens and pre-teens think the act of sending a flirtatious photo of themselves to their current love interest is fairly innocent they do not often think of the consequences associated with such behavior. The ability for the recipient to forward to a friend or even share with their entire online Social Network can be emotionally traumatizing for your child and even result in Legal allegations under the current jurisdiction.
What can you do to help? Here are some basic guidelines:
Communicate - Be proactive and stay on top of your child's relationships and monitor their communications, particularly with online devices. Have a conversation about appropriate communication and sexting to let them know that you are not naive to the world they live in.
Consequences - Make sure your child understands the cost of engaging in risky online communications. Show them examples of other kids that have experienced public embarrassment and legal consequences.
Digital Citizenship - You child may have impeccable behavior in the "physical" world but it is important to impart to the rules online. Anything that is posted or sent is indelible and can be shared virally and very quickly. It's not like an incriminating note that is passed in class and can be ripped up to hide the evidence.
Read more about the dangers of sexting and how to protect your child here