Sunday, October 24, 2010

Let's Talk About Sex(ting)

This is sponsored content from BlogHer and LG Text Ed



I have 2 teenage sons who both have cell phones and who both use those cell phones for texting. I suppose as a responsible parent, one would expect me to say that I've had conversations with them about "sexting." But the truth is, I haven't.

I have had conversations about what is and is not appropriate to post online. But I've never had the conversation about what is and is not appropriate to send via text messages.

I trust my children with their cell phones. They've been responsible cell phone users and to my knowledge, have never engaged in sexting. But, I suppose I would never know that unless I checked their text messages.

I do not check my children's text messages.

I've never felt that I needed to. I know the people that they talk to and communicate with on a regular basis. (I do check phone records to keep track of those things, but I do not read actual messages.) They're either family members or friends from school. Yes, there is a girlfriend, but again, I have no reason to believe he would be disrespectful or vulgar with his girlfriend either online or via text messaging.

I grew up in a home where privacy did not exist. My parents monitored every aspect of my life, including- but not limited to- the contents of my purse, my backpack, underneath my mattress and inside of any and all pockets. My parents never allowed me to earn their trust. I swore that when I had kids, I would not treat them the way that I was treated.

And that is why I do not check their text messages. They have yet to give me a reason not to trust that they're not sending sexually explicit text messages/images.

Participating in this campaign has definitely made me more interested in the subject and I am now asking myself the question "have I been an irresponsible parent by NOT talking to my children about this issue?"

What do you think? Is this a conversation that parents with teens should have, regardless of how much you trust your child/ren? I'd love to hear what you have to say!

Each comment left on this post benefits DoSomething.org with a $0.50 donation!

Visit LG Text Ed , where Dr. Rosalind Wiseman explains the dangers and consequences of this new form of flirting. You can also watch Emmy award winning actress Jane Lynch share a lesson on the sensitive stuff kids are sending around without thinking about the consequences.   

15 comments:

  1. I, too, grew up in a home where privacy was nonexistent. I always felt violated and to this day, I still get angry when I think about it. Also, all it did was make me learn how to be more sneaky. I have a teenage son and my husband thinks we should check his texts. I don't like to for the following reasons: 1. He's never given us a reason to not trust him. 2. I don't want him to feel the lack of respect I did growing up. 3. I didn't raise a dummy and he KNOWS HOW TO DELETE TEXTS!! I don't think that he'd even leave something inappropriate on his phone even if he was doing it. Therefore, it would be a moot point.
    However, I think that TALKING about sexting and all of the inappropriate situations that can be created with technology is a must. It's for his protection. It's for my peace of mind. Now, can I be everywhere at all times? No. Will I say beyond a shadow of a doubt that I'll never check his texts? No. If I even have the slightest feeling something fishy is going on, I'll investigate.

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  2. I think you're right, Heather. I absolutely need to have this conversation with my children, now that I am aware of the issue.

    Thanks so much for taking the time to share your feelings on this. It will actually be helpful for me when I have The Talk with my boys.

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  3. I don't have children. I am 25 years old, so I remember my teenage years very clearly, and I have a 15 year old brother. My boyfriend works for an organization that teaches parents to talk to their kids about safety online and on their phones.

    I know it will be a terribly awkward conversation to have, and that teenagers will do what they'll do, but if you at least have the conversation with your kids, then they will think twice before doing something inappropriate. Unfortunately, you can't control or know everything that they do, but you will have planted a seed in their minds. All you can do is make sure that they think before they act...or text. You could always use the whole Brett Favre thing as an excuse to bring it up...right? :)

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  4. I am totally with you. My parents (actually, just my mom), gave me no privacy or trust at all. The only time I ever had a diary, she didn't even bother to pick the lock - she just broke the strap and helped herself. Then stuck it back where it was and never said a thing.

    She would open my mail (letters from my then 10 year old friend in another state) and not even tell me they came. I would find them, opened, in her room and she would say she thought they were for her (because of all the strawberry scented stationary her non-existent pen pals were using, I guess)

    There was NOTHING that was sacred - I wasn't allowed to make my own decisions, and it sucked. So, like you, I trust my kids. Don't get me wrong - if they showed ANY signs of a problem, I would be all over it. but since they are good kids, who are involved in enriching activities and get good grades, etc, I give them the trust they have earned.

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  5. The rule at our house has always been we can read your text messages whenever we want. We don't but the idea that we can puts that thought into her mind.

    With that said, my daughter was (for lack of a better description) targeted by some boys trying to get her to ingage in sexting. I found out because she showed me a text on her phone of a friends new puppy and when I closed that text saw a few lines of another one and opened it to see what it was all about. To say I was shocked would be an understatement. These boys (one our neighbor who's dad is a police officer) said things to her that would make me blush if I were in the privacy of my own bedroom with my husband.

    It is a terrible feeling knowing that *MY* child was so easily the target without doing anything (I know she isn't perfect and I am not trying to proclaim her as such) to provoke this in any way.

    Talk to your boys, if you have an open trusting relationship they will know you are just trying to make them aware not accuse them of bad behaviors.

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  6. How about "Please don't ever text anything that you wouldn't want G to receive when she is your age."

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  7. I think you are doing the right thing, you seem to have a very good relationship with your children. But you could bring up the subject with them just so they know where you stand. You may think they know, but unless you spell it out, they don't know for sure what the limits are. They may be wanting to ask you but don't know how to start the conversation either.

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  8. I think Kathy from NJ said it best. Bringing the subject up may be uncomfortable,but unfortuantely in this day, it really does need to be talked about. I agree with you though, until they give you a reason, their texts are not worth looking at.

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  9. I have two teen boys with cell phones. I had the talk with them about sex, but it never entered my mind to talk about sexting. Then last year happened. My oldest was banned from talking to or seeing a girl that he was interested in. He was 15 at the time. I found out that he had been sexting with the girl, and her parents saw the messages. It was then we had the sexting talk. I also talked about naked pictures being sent via the phones, even if the girls were barely clothed, and how that was pornography and illegal (thankfully that hadn't happened). Wow, the things we've talked about now... things that just never entered my mind to talk about because it wasn't something I grew up with. The sexting has stopped. We've moved on to bigger issues now - suicide. Two of his friends have killed themselves in the past year, and tonight he found out that a third tried tonight and thankfully failed. Can I just go back to when he was a little boy??? It was so much easier to parent then.

    Debbie
    (can't figure out how to sign in with my google groups ID - sorry)

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  10. Ok let me start by saying every parent who trusts their child is living in this fantasy world. High School isn't like it was for us. Guess what? Sex and talking about it is rampant. My sister's daughter is 15 and has already had guys send her texts with their private parts. This is a reality. It isn't about trusting our children. Because the fact is we may trust them but they can still be violated. Think about how violating it is for your child who is not even ready to talk about sex receive a text with a classmate exploiting themselves? How would your child feel? Confused? Embarrassed? Feeling like they are not part of the "in" thing? It isn't ONLY about what our kids our texting, it's about what they are receiving. My sister checks her daughters texts. Not to invade but to see what she is receiving. This shows my niece that my sister trusts her but has to look out for her. Can you imagine YOUR child being exposed to that? My older son is 20 and has a cell phone but my younger children do not. When they carry the "spare" I do not let them text on it. They are 11 and 13. I feel if they want to have conversations with their friends their friends can call my home phone and the boys can fight over who gets to use it. After all, when I was growing up that is how we managed and I feel a sense of protecting them by doing so. I know there will come a time where the cell phone will be necessary and when that time comes I will not only talk to them about what they send but about what they are receiving. They may not have any control over what others send, but their parents do and if it's a lewd photo of a minor then that is when I know I have to step in and alert the said parent.

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  11. I'm not a parent--I'm 21 and have a younger brother (age 18) and I have to say I'm so surprised at how many comments have said how parents give their children no privacy. My line of thought is that if a parent tells their child they don't trust them (which to my mind that is doing), then the child would eventually figure they don't need to behave to try to earn their parents trust or respect if they can't get it.

    My parents gave us our privacy, but always had talks with us as needed. I'm kind of horrified at the idea of having their private text messages read by parents, though I understand the need. Honestly though--I'm still shocked at how young some kids are when they get their phones and at all the texting that's allowed.

    Yes, it sounds like a awkward conversation to have. I hope it all goes as smoothly as possible!

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  12. My son is 15 and we have had the conversation several times. However, considering the pics I see teenage girls posting on FB when their parents are their friends and see it, it would not surprise me to find a text.

    The rule at my house is that I can read his texts - I don't but wouldn't hesitate if I thought something was up.

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  13. Laura, that is the same rule I have. I absolutely can read their texts at any time, I just don't see a need to do so at this time.

    I also have their passwords to their facebook accounts so I can check at any time. But I see their profiles and so far, they're behaving appropriately there so I feel no need to step in and read messages.

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  14. I have an 11 year old daughter and a 14 year old son. They both have cell phones and fb accounts. The caveat of having the phones/fb is that I can and/or will be able to access any of the accounts should I feel I need to. I check both childrens' fb profiles about once a week. I do not search their rooms, pockets or backpacks though. I would if I felt something was going on! I have explained that it's not about not trusting them, but it is about not trusting other people. We are responisble for keeping our children safe. In this day and age that means being aware of every avenue of communication our children can be approached via. My kids know that I trust them, I still need to protect them and while they dont always love it, they do inherently appreciate that I am looking out for them.
    Darnit, I am never going to be as eloquent as you Yvonne!

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  15. My oldest daughters are 7. Can I keep them young for, like, ever? Man, I don't want to deal with this kind of thing. I want their teenage years to be fun and as innocent as possible without be sheltered or overly controlled by us. I hope what we are doing now as parents will help them later to make good decisions. Ugg.

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