Sexting is dangerous. Let’s get that out of the way now. If you’re here reading this, it’s either because you’ve become aware your son has been sexting, or you have a suspicion and are looking for more information.
Make no mistake, no matter what your teen may be saying to dismiss it, there is very real danger in teens sexting.
What is Sexting?
The root of “sexting” is the joining of two words: sex and texting. Obvious, yes, but it’s important to keep this in mind as your teen tells you what he’s doing is innocent, or “not a big deal”. There’s nothing innocent when sex is involved.
At its most “innocent” sexting involves flirtatious messages of a sexual nature. At the more intense level, it means naked photos. On the one hand, this behavior can cause serious emotional stress when images are mocked or publicized. But also, sending these photos of teen children over electronic means constitutes as child pornography. This behavior can get not only your son but a lot of people into some very serious trouble.
How to Stop it
There are steps you can take as a father to ensure your son understands the what and why of why sexting should be avoided, and also how to prevent it—one way or another.
First and foremost, you need to be able to communicate with your son. Not only about everyday things, but the potentially uncomfortable stuff as well. This includes sex, sexuality, and lifestyles. If your son feels he can talk to you, sexting can be an easy matter to discuss and close before it even starts. If he’s not comfortable and feels he can’t come to you, it’s likely he’ll go somewhere else to get his information, which could be unreliable or teach the wrong lesson.
Communication naturally leads to informing your son of the dangers. Explain the dangers of sexting and how the threat of child pornography is very real and could land him and his friends in prison.
Now that your son has the information he needs, teach him how to apply it to a healthy, secure life. Remind them that anything sent out can never be returned. This isn’t paper. If he sends a compromising pic of himself out, he loses all control over where it goes. If he receives any, or forwards any onto his friends, he’s then responsible for the consequences.
4. Be the parent.
You are your son’s father. You’re not his friend, you’re not his buddy. If, after all of the communication, he begins or continues the behavior, and thus proves he can’t be trusted, it’s up to you to take control. The risks to your son’s future are worth more than a few angsty glares.
Teens will do as they do while they explore who they are. It’s up to us as parents, however, to guide them through the dangerous waters and make them aware of the consequences. When in doubt about anything, research to educate yourself so that you can help your teen as best you can.
Tyler Jacobson is a father, husband, and writer, with experience as a content writer and outreach coordinator for HelpYourTeenNow. Tyler has offered honest advice and humor to struggling parents and teens. Tyler has researched and written on education problems, disorders, the world of social media, addiction, and pressing issues with raising a teen today. Follow Tyler on: Twitter | LinkedIn