How to talk to your teen about sexting

Does your teenager have a smartphone? Like every other teenager out there, they probably do. However, that means that you need to have a serious talk about “sexting” before your teen gets into trouble. If you wait until they already start experimenting with online flirting, it may be too late.

Why is sexting such a serious issue?

Possession and dissemination of nude images of minors and images that depict a minor in a sexual way are illegal, plain and simple. Even something that your teen seem as “flirty” rather than outright obscene can be illegal.

It doesn’t matter if your teen is the one who took them and shared them with another teen or not. Both the teen who takes and sends the photos and the teen who receives them and keeps them on their phone can end up in serious legal trouble. With that in mind, make sure that your teen understands that if they’re on the receiving end of a sexy shot from their boyfriend or girlfriend, they need to delete it immediately.

What other problems can sexting cause?

The other thing you need to stress to your teenager is that every image they put out there digitally has the potential to stay around forever. An intimate shot can easily get into the hands of someone other than their intended recipient.

If, for example, their boyfriend’s phone gets hacked or stolen, it’s all too easy for your teen’s topless photos or bedroom shots to end up somewhere online. They may also later regret putting their trust in someone if that person gets angry later and shares their photos. The social and emotional damage of such photos can be immense.

If it’s already too late and your teen was caught sending, sharing or holding onto illicit photos of a minor, do the smart thing: Talk to an attorney before you talk to anyone else.

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