Boy howdy, it must be more fun than ever to be a parent these days. (Insert extreme sarcasm here.) Not only do you have to worry about drugs, Facebook and good ol’ fashioned sex, but now you really need to be aware of teen “sexting.”
The topic has been in the news for about a year – this week, though, a Pew Internet and American Life Project of Washington released a study that shows 15 percent of American teenagers take part in sexting. The percentage doubles as teens get older.
Problem is, the number is very likely higher than 15 percent. That’s because researchers interviewed 800 teens with their parents or guardians present. So if you think your kid is the resident angel, well, not so much.
And the danger of sexting is growing. Kids who pay for their own cell phone bills were most likely to send and receive nude and sexually suggestive messages. Yet, the issue isn’t just about inappropriate cell phone photos – a lot of kids apparently don’t understand that recipients forward those images and even post them on the Web. When that happens, law enforcement can get involved on the basis of child porn, and college admissions officials, potential employers – not to mention friends and family – can all access the photos.
All we can say is, parents – educate, educate, educate. And if your kids pay for their own cell bills, add them to your family plan and make them reimburse you.