Research shows that children spend an average of 71/2 hours a day using smart phones, computers or other electronic devices. One 14-year old stated that he receives and sends an average of 500 text messages a day! What’s even more alarming is the number of children who walk around glued to their cell phones without any “parental interruption.” It’s time for us parents to start asking…what’s going on?
According to a study by the University of Texas Medical Branch published by the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, more than one in four teenagers – equally male and female, have sent a nude picture of themselves via text or email. The study suggests that receiving and sending sexual photos via cell phone or computer is common among teens and may be tied to their sexual behaviors. Nearly seven or of 10 girls reported having been asked to send a naked photo of themselves. Some girls send the photos to feel sexy, to please their boyfriends and some feel pressured.
948 high school students between the ages of 14- 19 participated in the study. The research found:
- 28% of adolescents have sent a nude picture of themselves through technology.
- 57% have been asked to send a nude picture.
- 31% have asked for a nude picture to be sent to them.
As the study shows us “sexting” is not a myth, it is very real. Teens that sext are more likely to engage in sex, exhibit risky sexual behaviors (multiple partners) and abuse drugs and alcohol. A few months ago a teenager committed suicide after nude photos she sent to her boyfriend went viral. With these alarming statistics, isn’t it worth the conversation with your child?
This is the time to have an open conversation with your child about sending and receiving nude photos. Children should know that once they send out the photos, they are no longer private as their friends have the ability to share the photos with the world via social media. If you find that your child is sharing photos, take a look at the “why,” and ask some questions such as: Does your child have low self-esteem or are they looking for attention outside of the home, and if so – why?
I encourage you to share real life stories of what has happened to other teens around the world that shared inappropriate photos. The “realness” of the consequences just might make your child think twice about the information they share online. Lastly, make sure your child knows that they can come to you if someone asks them to send nude photos of themselves.
A simple conversation with your child could make the difference in the decisions they make.