When your teenager won’t stop sexing | For the parents

Sexting is about connecting intimately in a convenient way – sharing sexual material, such as a photo or video, through a mobile device or through a social networks app – and it’s not just adults who do it. Teens are also sexting.

While adults are more likely to sext than teens, studies indicate that between 7% and 28% of teens sext. In fact, research from the medical branch of the University of Texas at Galveston suggests that sexting may become a normal part of adolescent sexual development. In the past, sexual development was much more subdued. But now, with around three-quarters of the teenage population having access to a mobile phoneParents need to be vigilant to protect their kids from online dangers, according to the Pew Research Center. This includes combating sexting behavior.

Parents don’t need to be technologically savvy to talk to their teens about sexting. In fact, the conversation shouldn’t be about technology. Rather, discussions should focus on values, expectations, appropriate online behavior, online privacy and good decision making. As sexting becomes more and more common, these conversations need to happen as soon as possible.

Unfortunately, many parents find out after the fact that their teenager has sexted. While this news can be heavy and overwhelming, it’s not the end of the world. The first thing to remember is not to panic. Society understands more and more that adolescents are sexually curious, and sexting is a way for some adolescents to satisfy this curiosity.

Over the years, the law has also become more comprehensive for sexting adolescents. What was once a felony, in many states, is now a misdemeanor. According to research in the Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and Law, many states have enacted laws to help differentiate child pornography and underage sexting. Unfortunately, some states have not passed laws appropriate to their times. It is therefore important to be familiar with specific state laws regarding sexting.

Potential legal ramifications aside, research in the journal Pediatrics suggests a correlation between teens who sext and sexual activity. Teens who send sexually explicit photos of themselves are at increased risk of becoming sexually active one year later. So, in addition to the fear that sexually explicit images could be shared online, there is great concern about sexting leading to promiscuity, which can increase the risk of sexually transmitted disease transmission and teenage pregnancy.

As a professional advisor, I am no stranger to the impact of sexting. I often advise parents who are at their wit’s end, having tried everything to get their teens to stop sexing. Just recently, I spoke with a father desperately trying to keep his teenage daughter from destroying her reputation. He agreed to let me share his story and the advice I gave him in the hopes of helping other parents in a similar situation.

The father says his daughter, now 16, has sent photos and videos of herself masturbating to at least one boy in the past three years. “I did everything you can imagine to make her stop. She won’t stop even if I take her off. all of his electronic devices and explain in detail the disadvantages of sexting, ”he says. He and his wife had many sincere discussions with their daughter to no avail. Her daughter even struggled to use a friend’s phone to send explicit videos of herself. .

She grew up in a social environment and was encouraged to make friends and have meaningful relationships. “Unfortunately, she has very few friends and has no outlet, like sports or any other activity,” says her father. “We’ve always tried to encourage her to be social, but she will only be social with boys. She refuses to try to change her life for the better.” She admitted to her father that she felt no shame or guilt for the sexting. “She’s not afraid of any consequences,” he says, and she refuses to stop.

While there is no easy way to curb teen sexting, like this teenager’s case, it’s important to pay attention to the factors that can cause young people to sex. In this particular case, the girl’s feelings of low self-esteem or self-worth, insecurity, and lack of friendships can all play a role.

With these themes in mind, here are seven ways parents can deter their teens from sexting:

First, determine why your teenager is sending sexts. Remember that all behavior is intentional. Your teenager acts this way for a reason. As you scratch your head trying to figure it out, ask yourself this question: what does she get out of sexting? Does sexting gain her peer approval, make her attractive, increase her popularity, boost her self-esteem, or satisfy her sexual curiosity? Once you understand what your teenager gets from sexting, you’ll be in a better position to talk to them about the dangers of sending sexually explicit images.

Connect your child with a positive role model. I advised the father who asked me for advice to put his daughter in touch with a strong and positive female mentor. With many students home for the summer, you may be able to find a student who has lofty goals and a strong sense of values ​​and morals. As we know from social learning theory, if your child can connect with a positive peer, they can start to shape and change their behavior and make better choices. Research published in the International Journal of Cyber ​​Criminology shows that when teens associate with a negative peer group, they are more likely to engage in sexting. Peers who take more risks create an environment that fosters deviant behavior, such as sexting. So, the more positive the peer relationships, the less likely your teenager is to engage in sexting.

Help your child to feel more confident. It’s summer and there are plenty of activities to keep bored young people busy; find something fun and engaging for your teenager. If your child finds something they are good at, it will increase their confidence, which may reduce the likelihood that they are prone to sexting.

Consider pet therapy. If your child has low self-esteem or feels out of place, ask them to volunteer at a local animal shelter. With the abundance of new puppies and kittens arriving regularly, shelters need a few extra hands. Caring for a four-legged friend who depends on her can make her feel loved and needed.

New start. Sometimes kids (like adults) just need to hit the reset button. Is your child being bullied or harassed, or has your teenager’s reputation suffered from sexting? If so, your child may not feel that it is possible to change, and that way of thinking can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. In some cases, when a child’s reputation has been seriously damaged and they are unable to make a fresh start, a change of school may be necessary for the child to start over and make new friendships. healthy.

Encourage your child to turn to positive friendships. Good friends are important to teens. A teenager who doesn’t feel connected can embrace ways to feel accepted, including sexting. Sometimes children take advantage of their peers’ desire for acceptance, for example by getting them to share sexually explicit images. If another child does this to your child, they are not a friend at all. So support your child as they seek to develop new, healthier relationships.

Hold on tight. The girl who sent the sext is confused and tries to figure out who she is. She needs to feel the unconditional love of her father and mother. I advised her father to continue to let her know that she is worthy, special and loved. Research has shown time and time again that even when we feel like our teens aren’t listening to us, they really are.

Often teens don’t see the big picture. They live in the moment and don’t think about the consequences of their actions. In fact, it’s normal for teenagers, whose brain is still developing, to act before thinking. It is only after being stung by the after-effects of sexting that they regret their actions. Don’t assume that your child won’t sext. Rather, keep the lines of communication open. When it comes to sexting, it’s better to be proactive than reactive.

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About Catherine Sherrill

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