What Parents Must Know about Teen Sexting

If you’re the parent of a teen girl, sexting is a term you must become familiar with.

Today’s level of technology has enhanced our world in many ways. Unfortunately, it’s also Sextingbrought about more than a few problems, especially for girls and young women.

Teens are frequently incapable of thinking through the potential implications of their actions, but when those behaviors bear the potential of lifelong consequences, parental intervention may be necessary.

If you have not yet heard about the phenomenon of sexting — sexually oriented text messaging — read on to learn more.

What Is Sexting and Why Is This Behavior So Dangerous?

The term sexting is a portmanteau of the words sex and texting, and it refers to any electronic transmission of explicit photos or messages.

A recent study found that more than 50 percent of teens engage in this behavior, some starting as early as age 13, and most of them consider it a harmless diversion akin to flirting. Others report doing it as a joke.

Even more alarming, almost a third of those who have received explicit photos or messages from someone else have shared them with others.

Distributing explicit photos of a minor, even if they’re of oneself, is considered in most states to be distribution of child pornography. A conviction means prison time and registering — for life — as a sex offender.

As you can see, sexting is most definitely not harmless or a joke!

Why Young Women Are at Increased Risk

Teen brains have not yet developed the level of impulse control that adults possess. Consequently, they don’t always consider the potential consequences of behavior. Hormones are raging, and tweens and teens have begun to explore their own sexuality. This sexually charged state of mind may lead to using bad judgment.

Young women face other risks too, including lost electronics and computer hacking.

If your daughter’s smartphone, tablet or laptop is lost or infiltrated, any personal photos or files can be copied and distributed. If hackers access her home computer, they can use the computer’s web cam to take pictures of her while undressing in the privacy of her own bedroom.

What Can Parents Do to Help?

The biggest mistake parents can make is to believe their daughter would never engage in such behavior. Many good kids make bad choices, and the research supports the likelihood that she may indeed have engaged in the exchange of explicit images or messages.

Some parents actively monitor their kids’ online activities; however, this is a highly personal decision. Either way, spend some time online learning about the code that teens use in sexting. For example, “IWSN” is shorthand for “I want sex now.” PIR means “parents in room.”

Have a frank discussion with your daughter about the potential risks of sexually oriented messages of any kind. Explain the implications if she were to be caught and arrested. Help her understand that people with bad intentions populate the Internet, and the person she believes she’s communicating with may, in fact, be someone else — and dangerous.

In some cases, when teen sexual behavior gets out of control, professional intervention is warranted. At Havenwood Academy, we provide residential treatment for girls ages 12 to 17. We offer programs specifically designed to address hyper-sexuality, promiscuity and sexual addiction, as well as other mental and emotional challenges.

If you have concerns about your daughter’s involvement with sexting behavior, contact us today for more information.