By Derek Brown, Adolescent/Family Counselor Celebration Church, Metairie
What is Sexting and Should I Really Be Concerned About My Teen or Pre-teen Actually Doing This?
In recent decades, teens would pile into skating rinks and football games to meet their needs for social belonging. In today’s world, technology has become the primary venue for communicating with peers. Whether by internet, cell phone, or some other multimedia device, teens are meeting their social and relational cravings through the digital world.
When you were an adolescent, it may have taken a lot of bravery to sneak under the bleachers or around the corner to catch a kiss from your big crush, but a teen in this generation has the means to virtually communicate those feelings in a matter of seconds through multimedia messages. Sexting, the transmitting of personal images that are sexual in nature, has become a new trend among teens and even pre-teens. A recent survey from The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy reveals that approximately one in five teens report sending nude or semi-nude images of themselves via text messages.
Obviously, sexting is a concern for you as a parent. To complicate matters, sexting is also a legal concern because the creation, distribution, or possession of lewd images of minors is a felony offense. Many young people are involved in the sexting epidemic with no idea of the legal ramifications. As a parent, it is your responsibility to help your teen make informed decisions. Make a commitment to share the facts with your children and help them work through an understanding of the potential legal consequences of such actions.
The introduction of new technology has made communication much more convenient. Even adults are getting used to the idea of smart phones, text messages, and social sites on the internet to enhance communication. The concern for younger users is that these supplemental methods of communication are often being used as a primary channel for their relational development. Healthy boundaries are already difficult to maintain but technological means of relating allows those boundaries to be crossed more prematurely by creating a false sense of closeness. Sexual predators know this and capitalize on it. Parents must also be aware of this and help young people develop age-appropriate and situation-appropriate relationships.
Take the Challenge
Your children will learn about sexuality; who or what will be their teacher? Take the challenge to establish an open relationship that makes you a solid influence in your teen’s understanding of sex. With your help, your teen or pre-teen can grow to have a godly perspective of sexuality. Ask your teen about sexting and do not be afraid to listen.
Derek Brown serves as Adolescent and Family Counselor at Celebration Hope Center, a ministry of Healing Hearts for Community Development (HHCD). You can connect with Derek by visitingwww.HealingHeartsNola.org.