Today, people of every age have smartphones, including tweens and teens. As a parent, you are concerned that the day you give your child a mobile phone, they may indulge in inappropriate activities. With the advancement of technology and mobile phones, children are becoming more engaged in their mobile phones, exposing them to cyberbullying, harassment, and other potential dangers, including sexting. Most teenagers think sexting is a normal way of interacting with their friends. And if you think your teens are engaged in sexting and wondering what you can do about it, this blog will help you figure out the situation and how to deal with it.
What is Sexting?
Sexting is usually referred to as sending and receiving sexually suggestive content such as messages, images, and videos via smartphones or any digital device. With the growth of digital technologies and the widespread use of smartphones among teenagers, teen sexting is on the rise and has become a concern for parents across the world. We all know that smartphones are necessary to communicate with friends and establish a new connection between social groups and school. But at the same time, your tweens and teens are exposed to the online world where nothing is private.
According to the recent study of the Journal of Pediatrics, approximately 15% of teens have sent sexually explicit text messages, while 27% have received them. And it also shows that sexting is linked to an increase in sexual activity among teenagers. It might be difficult for them later in life, even when they are adults.
Many countries have implemented strict laws and penalties to deal with a growing number of teen sexting. Some proposed legislation aims to better safeguard children from sextortion and child pornography, while others ask for sex education for middle and high school students.
Why is Sexting Common Among Teenagers?
Most teenagers communicate with their friends through text. As every teenager has their own mobile phone, it is easy to take sexually explicit photos and share them with their friends without their parents’ consent. They find sexting is fun, cool, and nothing serious sharing such photos of themselves or others.
According to recent studies on teens and technology, nearly 90% of teenagers are involved in sexting and said they have no negative outcomes. Sexting is a new way for teens to build new relationships, initiate flirting, peer pressure. There might be several reasons why your teen is involved in sexting.
1. Peer Pressure
Teenagers are not mature enough to take the correct decisions and easily engage in risky activities. They can do anything under peer pressure, and their desire for sexual curiosity makes them susceptible to sexting. Peer pressure is real, and it can make your teens do any activities that you might never think of doing. According to the American National Campaign research, around 25% of teen girls and boys said that they were pressured by their friends to send or share explicit images and messages.
2. Attention and Affirmation
Most teenagers use sexting to initiate their new relationships as a means of showing trust to one another or getting attention from people. They think sharing their images will make them popular among their friend groups. At the same time, some teenagers believe that sharing provocative images of themselves will gain people’s attention in general.
There are numerous examples in the pop industry where people got famous because of their leaked sex tapes or provocative images. As a result, some young individuals assume they will be discovered and get famous as models or television personalities.
3. Unaware of Consequences
Young children are not aware of bad things that can occur when they share explicit images. The contents you share on the internet are never private or anonymous. Even if it is sent to one person, it can be forwarded to other people as well. Many people might see your teenager’s private photos, and they could be publicly humiliated, or even worse, it could damage their reputation.
Furthermore, your kids can be legally charged with child pornography offenses and go to prison or be registered as sex offenders for their whole life.
What are The Problems Caused By Sexting?
Sexting can also be taken as a form of sexual harassment if sent without the receiver’s consent. If your teens have been involved in sexting, it can put their safety and mental well-being at risk. Here are the consequences of sexting and make sure your teens understand all the risks.
1. It Can Lead to Bullying and Harassment
Bullying and harassment have always been a concern for parents, whether online or in real life. Once the explicit messages and images are shared in cyberspace, there is nothing like private sharing, and your child might be the victim of bullying and harassment. The one who receives the sext might forward or use it to sexually harass your teens or make fun of their body appearance and habit.
They might also use images to impersonate your kids on social media to perform inappropriate activities. And especially teen girls are involved in slut-shaming where others make assumptions about their images and bully them.
2. They Might Get Involved in Child Pornography
Most of the teen sexting appears to be consensual rather than nonconsensual. Though all sexting is consensual, it might be harmful to either party if the images are nudes or partially nude. Sexting is a crime if you distribute sexual images of children under 18; even if they agree to send the images, both parties can be charged with child pornography offenses.
Many states have disseminated a law and penalty for the one who carry out such activities. Even if the receiver didn’t request a copy of the images, they could be charged with legal punishments, and even worse, they could be labeled as a sex offender.
3. Blackmailing and Revenge
Even if your teen sends images to their friends only, some of them might forward it to others without their consent. When such images reach the wrong hand, it may create a lot of problems for your teens. It holds the risk of blackmailing. There have been many recorded cases where young kids or teenagers are forced into creating and forwarding sexual content.
Criminals target young kids and demand large sums of money. They can use such images to blackmail the victim into sending more sexual images. In some cases, sexting content is forwarded to other people to take revenge on the ex-partner.
4. It Exposes Your Kids to Sexual Predators
The biggest risk of sexting is messages being forwarded, recorded, or posted online. It cannot be unsend once you share them. A receiver may screenshot the photos and videos and post or repost them on different sites, including adult sites. Once the photo reaches adult sites, it increases the risk of being exposed to sexual predators and sexual exploitation. There are cases of online sexual exploitation where young teens are manipulated to perform sexual activities by threatening them.
5. General Public Shaming and Embarrassment
Sending sexually explicit messages and images to friends is never a good idea. Sexting can potentially destroy your teenager’s reputation. The shared images might get leaked, and if people see such images of your kids, they will feel ashamed and uncomfortable around the public. They might also post nasty comments, ask to post more images, or make other inappropriate demands.
It will be difficult for them to perform ordinary activities like going to school and college and walking around. It can also ruin their friendships and social network. Such a situation can be embarrassing and humiliating for your child and damage their self-respect.
What Can You Do About It?
In most cases, sexting does not lead to bad consequences because the image is not shared beyond its intended recipient. However, this does not guarantee that children will be secure from online predators at all times. Here are some tips for dealing with teen sexting, if you want to keep your children safe from sexual predators and harassment.
1. Set Clear Rules and Boundaries
Being parents, it is your responsibility to watch their activities and whereabouts. It is better to prevent and warn them before things go wrong. It would be best to make them clear about online safety and privacy, such as setting strong passwords, two-factor authentication, and not sharing passwords.
Anything you share online will be easily accessible to others, so be careful with whom you share and do not trust anyone you meet online. Never share any private information or pictures of yourself. Even if you receive sexually explicit images of others, it is better not to forward and let them delete the images. You can teach them how to use the internet and social media responsibly and set a daily schedule to limit their access to mobile phones and games.
2. Be Calm and Listen to Them
If you notice anything suspicious on your teen’s mobile phone, do not act without knowing the actual reason. First, approach them without any judgment, listen to them about what the matter is. It is always a good idea to have open conversations and discussions about what you discover, whether it’s cyberbullying, harassment or sexting.
Better communication with your children can reduce their stress or any other problems that might influence their decisions. For instance, if they are getting involved in sexting, receiving explicit images, you can tell them to report images or delete them. Let them talk to the sender’s guardian or talk to an elderly person, which helps them manage the situation.
3. Make Them Clear About The Consequences And Law
Discuss the consequences and penalties they may face if they are found guilty of sharing sexual photographs of minors or themselves. Such images will lead you to cyberbully, harassment, and exploitation. You might be suspended from your school, embarrassed, and humiliated by friends. It can also lead to anxiety and the development of depressive symptoms in young children.
Even if you don’t intend to receive or forward such messages, you will be liable as an original sender. You will have to face several legal consequences such as child pornography offense, penalty, or being labeled as a sex offender.
Use Parental Control Applications
Due to technology, children are always connected to the online world, and parents need to track their activities to know what they are up to on their phones. With the help of parental control applications, you can remotely access all information on your child’s device to ensure their online safety and privacy. Here I have enlisted some parental control applications:
MobileSpy offers a complete monitoring solution and tracks your teen’s activities. It is one of the best parental control applications on the market. With the help of MobileSpy, you can keep an eye on your child’s mobile activities all the time. It ensures the digital safety of your kids. You will be able to track all activities like text messages, IM chats, call history, social media, and more.
MobileSpy has a keylogger feature that helps you to see anything that your kids type on their devices. If you think your teens are into sexting, set keyword alerts such as cyberbullying, nudes, blackmail, and many more if required. So that every time the target device types saved keywords, it alerts you with a notification which made easier for you to track their messages. Besides keylogger, call history, and messages, it has a lot of features to offer you.
- GPS location tracks the exact location of the target device.
- Check all incoming, outgoing calls and text messages, including deleted ones.
- Access to all the installed applications on the device.
- View their browser history and multimedia messages.
- Set Geofence alert to get a notification every time a device enters restricted locations.
Qustodio is the most trusted online monitoring software. It ensures your children’s online activities are safe and risk-free. Its intuitive user interface makes it easier for users to control all activities from a single dashboard. Qustodio supports almost all platforms: Windows, Mac, smartphones, and Chromebook. With this software, you can supervise your kids in the way you want by filtering inappropriate applications and websites.
This app offers a screen limiting feature that helps your kids to balance their online and offline activities. And it is completely invisible on the target device. Besides monitoring and tracking devices, it also provides parenting advice on avoiding online predators for young children.
- Get real-time data of your child’s browsing history, social media usage, location, and more to ensure they are not sharing personal information.
- It blocks inappropriate adult content, applications, and games.
- Set time limits to reduce their social media and gaming addictions.
- Get a detailed report of your child’s mobile activities by email.
- Set SOS alerts on child devices to ensure their safety.
3. KidsGuard Pro
KidsGuard Pro for Android is the ultimate solution to keep an eye on your children. It is easy to install and undetectable on the target device. You do not need to root your target Android devices. It has amazing remote control functions that help you perform stealth mode operations, such as recording phone calls and taking screenshots of a target device.
With KidsGuard Pro, you can view every activity on the device. It collects all data of the target phone and displays it to your account. You can easily access those data in your control panel through the browser on any device by simply logging in to your account. All data are encrypted, so only you can access those data ensuring the user’s safety and privacy.
- Remotely track over 30 social media, including all popular ones: Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook.
- Inbuilt GPS and Wi-Fi tracking give a real-time location of a device.
- Access files of a target device from anywhere and also offer export options for future usage.
- It provides real-time data syncing and supports multiple languages.
- View text messages and shared multimedia messages.
4. Highster Mobile
Highster Mobile is another phone tracking software available for both Android and iPhone. This app is not only used to monitor children’s activities but also to monitor employees’ productivity. You can easily track their SMS text messages and iMessages even if they are deleted. It is easy to use, and you will get free lifetime upgrades with one payment which other tracking applications do not offer.
With Highster Mobile, you can backup all data on its secure server so that you can easily access it whenever you want or even if you lose your phone. It has a live control panel that lets you access all data on your children’s mobile devices. You can use it to track social media IM chats, emails, installed applications, and more.
- View the target device’s browser history and restrict access to unwanted websites.
- A stealth camera allows you to initiate the camera to take pictures of your surroundings.
- Access images and videos are taken from the device, including received multimedia messages.
- It uploads the GPS position of a device on Google Map at a regular interval.
- Track incoming and outgoing call logs with duration and time.
Spyera is the most powerful and comprehensive monitoring application that gives complete control over your children’s device remotely. It provides all the features that are required for good monitoring software. It is easy to install, and you can access all the data and view activities of a device from a web account. Spyera collects all the real-time data of a target device and reports it to your web account.
Spyera works on all devices; Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android. This app is completely invisible on a device. With its remote Control panel, you can change application settings, enable and disable features without getting a hand on a target device. With Spyera, you can also see the transferred files, track notes, contacts, search engine history, and more.
- Tracks all social media activities, IM chat messages, live call listening, recording, SMS, including iMessages.
- Receive alerts whenever target users receive or make phone calls.
- Remotely enable the microphone to record the sound of surroundings.
- Set keywords and get an alert when defined keywords are mentioned in any chat messages.
- It offers free upgrades to its users and has a money-back guarantee in 10 days of usage.
6. Kaspersky Safe Kids
Kaspersky Safe Kids is another monitoring application for mobile phones and computers. It is used as both parental control and employee monitoring to monitor their device activities. It is fully functional on Windows, Mac, Android phones & tablets; however, some restrictions might not work on iOS devices. It is easy to install, and you can connect devices through your Kaspersky account.
- Automatically blocks all harmful search requests on Youtube.
- Manage your child’s screen time by setting up an exact schedule for a day.
- Notifies you if the target device battery is low so that you don’t lose contact with them.
- Get a real-time alert if they access appropriate websites, applications, and enter restricted locations.
Sexting has been a serious issue among teenagers. However, most teenagers do not take sexting seriously and share their private information and images with their friends, not knowing its consequences. Once their images are leaked or reach in the wrong hand, it might create a problem for your teenagers for their whole life. Teenagers might not be wise enough to understand technology and its risks. So it is better to make them understand the risk of digital technology and stay alert before bad things occur.
As a parent, you have to teach your children to use their phones and technology responsibly and only access appropriate content. Even if your children are involved in sexting, consider talking with them or seeking legal advice. In many countries, sexting is regarded as a crime and has a strict law against such behavior. Educating your teens on the legal consequences of sexting might help them to deter from engaging in the behavior.
And you can also use parental control applications to keep track of their phone activities to know what they are up to on their phone. With the above-mentioned applications, you will be able to access all their messages, images, and videos and give peace of mind to parents that their children are safe online.
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