How to Talk to Your Teen About the Harmful Effects of Nude Selfies & Sexting

Here is something to consider: Sexting in today's age is the equivalent of going on a first date for older generations. Let's face it, the environment that school-age teens are facing, is very different from what our parents ever experienced. To every parent's horror, nude selfies are becoming a huge problem in Utah schools (as well as schools all over the United States).

As one school resource officer in the Salt Lake School District shared, it took an entire year to resolve a revenge porn case that was the result of someone sending a nude selfie. 

Sexting is the sending, receiving, or forwarding sexually explicit messages, photographs or images, primarily between mobile phones. Sexting is so widespread that many teens accept it as commonplace and think of it as harmless.

In fact, when informed of the risk of being charged with creating (and distributing) self produced child pornography, most teens respond with "I don't care", "It's harmless" or "I won't get in trouble." 

"A girlfriend and boyfriend may not see the harm in exchanging pictures, especially if they are the same age. But when that picture gets passed around to others — or the boyfriend and girlfriend break up — other problems ranging from distribution to cyberbullying to even extortion and blackmail can arise, according to police and school officials." as discussed on DeseretNews.

Advice For Talking To Your Teen About Sexting

It is crucial to have a conversation about sexting with your teen. Putting your head in the sand can be dangerous for both your child and for you. The conversation may be an uncomfortable, on-going talk that no one wants to give, but it NEEDS to happen.

Don't wait for an incident to occur; it's much better to talk before something happens. Also, make sure to discuss what your teen can do if they receive an inappropriate photo (delete immediately; your phone could easily fall into the wrong hands if you misplace it). Having this talk could prevent an incident from occurring or from getting amplified. 

Also, make sure to stress that once an image is sent, it can never be retrieved and it is out of their control. This is risky! Even with sites like Snapchat, which is becoming a teen favorite, where images are supposedly gone after a certain period of time, don't expect a post to completely self-destruct. Someone could easily have taken a picture (made a copy) of your original photo.

Make sure that your teen understands that they should only post and send pictures that they don't mind the whole world seeing.

Since the majority of sexting cases involve juveniles, it is classified as child porn. It doesn't matter whether the image is of your teen or their your boyfriend or girlfriend.  If they created/distributed/possessed they could be charged with child pornography, and labeled a sex offender for life.  Nobody wants that on their record or for their entire life!  

Finally, it is important that everyone, especially teens remember that they deserve and  need love. In a world full of cyberbullying and sexting, many teens are often left feeling scared, alone, and with little self esteem.

It is important to remind them that they deserve real love and to be there for them when they need you.