In today’s age, how we communicate has solved lots of problems. Where technology has made our lives easier, it has also given us such opportunities that can be abused. For instance, it is pretty common for parents to catch their kids sexting. There is a lot more they can do with a smartphone and access to the internet. As a tech-anxious parent, the first solution that might have popped in your head would be not to get them a phone or maybe even cut down their internet access. Face it, no matter how much you want to, you can do that.
The rise of sexting
Lots of studies now show that teen sexting is on the rise and surprisingly, parents are unaware of it. Teen Online and Wireless Safety Survey says that:
- 11 percent of teens admit they have sent personal photos to strangers
- 80 percent teens have sexted under the age of 18
- 12 percent of the teenage girls say they felt pressured to sext
Is your teen in danger of sexting?
There are lots of reasons why a teenager can engage in sexting. Most of them are pressured into doing so. Others just do it because they are interested in having sex. Even if your teen is disciplined, their friends can make them become a victim. After all, it is a risky behavior that can land any vulnerable kid in trouble.
How can parents step in and put a stop to it?
The debate shouldn’t be whether my kid is sexting or not, instead, you should take precautions beforehand. Here is what you can do:
- Advocate for transparency from the very beginning
We all know technology opens door to lots of new adventures, even the ones that are not healthy. So, starting from a young age, when you give your child a tablet, before even giving them their first smartphone, advocate transparency. It is wrong to start having a conversation about internet safety when some incident happens. It’s best if you set rules on the use of a phone or computer. Your kid might throw some tantrum here and there but you have to deal with that. If you start preaching and practicing rules at a young age, when it is time to give your kid a smartphone, they won’t mind if their internet use is monitoring by you. Also, they will follow the same rules they used to when they had a tablet.
- Have a real conversation with your child
As your kid grows into a teenager and starts entering the territory of social media, it is time you have some real conversation with them. They need to know what’s the appropriate behavior and language expectable online and offline. It is also time you talk to them about cyberbullying and what they must do if they are bullied or witness someone else being bullied. They must be reassured that they should come to you whenever they are going through any trouble without any fear.
- Express your reasons
If you see them sharing something inappropriate online, you need to tell them why this behavior is not acceptable. It is extremely important to have an open dialogue about self-respect, privacy and setting boundaries. Your tone should be friendly. Don’t be furious at them.
- Have that tough conversation
Take this as an opportunity to find out what your child has in mind about sex and whether or not they are sexually active. You must also share values about relationship and sexual encounter to give them all the support they need for making good decisions. As uncomfortable as it may sound, you need to have this talk.
Don’t hesitate in using a Parental Monitoring App
You may be one of such parents who believe that monitoring your kid makes you the bad guy but it does not have to be that way. If you are doing it for the sake of the safety of your kid, then you shouldn’t feel guilty.
One wrong move like talking to a stranger or sharing personal information can get your child in trouble. As much as talking to them and educating them about the online safety parameters is important, it is also crucial that you do some monitoring. Let’s be honest, our kids are more intelligent and tech-savvy than we are. They may know the loopholes in technology that you aren’t aware of. With parental monitoring apps, you can find peace and keep your kid away from a lot of mess. Let’s suppose you didn’t know they were sexting, you will find that out too.
I will share a parental monitoring app that I personally use to monitor the online activities of my teenage son. It’s Xnspy. It is an easy to use app that can be installed on Android phones as well as tablets. Here are some of the features that I find useful in protecting my kids:
- Control their phone hours
I don’t take away my kid’s phone at night, instead, I lock it with Xnspy parental monitoring app. I also lock his phone when it is time to do homework so that he can finish up in time without any distraction.
- Monitor text messages and IM chats
My kid knows that I will be using Xnspy to read his text messages and IM conversations on Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Line, Viber and more just to be sure he is not being cyberbullied or sharing personal information with strangers. This is also a sound way of ensuring he is not sexing or being persuaded by any a contact to engage in sexting.
- Track the web history and emails
Kids can be seeing a lot of inappropriate stuff on the internet. Also, sexting can happen on emails too. Xnspy lets me monitor view his internet browsing history and the sent and received emails. I am relieved that if I find him involved in any stuck activity, I can immediately put it to an end.
Parental monitoring apps let you monitor the activities on the target phone or tablet remotely. Since you are paying for the phone, you have the right to monitor your kids and ensure they don’t become a victim of bullying and harassment on the phone. Nevertheless, you should find a balance between monitoring and trusting your kid. All this starts with having a healthy conversation.