Have you looked at your child's cell phone or social networking site lately? A growing number
of teens are sending messages to their friends containing naked or semi-naked photos of themselves, a practice called "sexting." Defined as the act of sending indecent or sexually explicit images or photographs, primarily
between mobile phones, "sexting" is illegal. Not only could this
action ruin a child's
reputation, it could land the child in legal trouble.
Talk with your
children about appropriate and responsible ways to use technology. Discuss the legal
and social consequences of sexting. Explain how "personal information" can be
passed around unscrupulously
and preserved indefinitely, and how sharing too much information on the Internet could
have harmful consequences in the future.
Teach your teens that deleting a photo on their mobile phone
doesn't prevent the image from being archived elsewhere and
possibly kept forever. Talk to your child about peer
pressure. Consider limiting your child's opportunities to
"sext" by establishing and enforcing a phone curfew or
having your service provider disable some functions of the
phone, such as picture messaging. Monitor your child's use
networking sites. Consider using a service such as My Mobile
Watch Dog or Mobile Nanny to help monitor your child's cell phone use.
Among the websites providing information and safety tips for
parents and teens are: