The Real Threat of “Sexting”
Sexting is defined as a sexually explicit message usually sent as a text message from one person to another. As long as a sext takes place between two mature and consenting adults, there is nothing wrong with sending such a message, although it’s usually not recommended. As we’ve all learned thanks to celebrities and hackers, privacy is not guaranteed and nude photos can be very embarrassing when they end up in the wrong hands.
While there are a number of reasons why one shouldn’t participate in sexting, there is a whole other issue that needs to be addressed. Particularly, parents need to address the possibility that their teenagers may be sexting.
This a problem for a number of reasons, first of all obviously the maturity is not there. No teenager can be trusted to keep a sext private. This can be potentially harmful to the reputation of the person who initially sent the sext. Second, any sexually explicit image taken of someone under the age of 18, is considered child pornography. In other words, the person sending the image may be charged with distributing child pornography and the person receiving it may be charged with possession of child pornography, both are felonies.
For example, PhillyMag recently reported about 20 teenage boys in Cape May who were charged with invasion of privacy for trading nude photos of their underage female classmates. One of the boys is actually 18 years old, and if he is found guilty he may face up to 5 years in prison. This just goes to show that teenagers are not really thinking about the consequences of their actions, and as a parent you need to step in.
As a parent it is your job to take action when your teenager may be doing something that could possibly be detrimental to his or her future. The Huffington Post suggests, that since you provide your child their cell phone and their computer, you have a right to make sure these things are not being used irresponsibly. While you want to trust your teenagers, it may be beneficial to check up on them once in a while and remember to act as their parent and not their friend. Another option would be downloading an app onto your teen’s phone, such as Senttell, which would inform you whenever a new picture is taken on their phone.