‘Sexting’ is typically referred to as sending a nude photo through a phone. There is nothing new about sharing a nude photo with a beloved. You just used to have to go to a seedy photography shop to get your film developed, or use a Polaroid and hand it over. The chances of lots of people seeing the photo were low. Remember needing to spring for double prints? Now, within seconds, thousands of people can see your nude photo depending on which app or website it gets uploaded to. Stats on the prevalence of sexting among teens are unclear, because studies range between 9%-60% (1, 2) of teens reporting that they have ever shared a nude image of themselves. So it’s difficult to tell how common sexting actually is. In order for us to address sexting in a realistic way with teens, we must first understand the sexual culture they live in that normalizes sexting.
Over my years talking with parents about sexuality, pornography and their kids, it seems as if everyone just wants to know what button to push, what software to buy, what technique to use, in order to ensure their child never sees porn, talks to strangers about sex online, or sends a “sext”. Let me be the first to say there is nothing a parent can do to guarantee their child will never do anything potentially dangerous online. There are, however, steps parents can take that will drastically reduce the probability that a child will develop consistently problematic internet behaviors.
Welcome to part 1 of my 3 part series on assessing and addressing pornography use with kids. It won’t be easy when you do, but you’ll be glad you did. Part 1 is about preparing yourself. It’s important for you to be an approachable parent, if you want your children to really keep you in-the-know about what they are up to in any area of their lives. Preparing to be approachable about porn can be difficult to say the least. You can start here with 5 ways to prepare yourself to talk about porn:
Before one of my workshops, a mom once told me, “I’m not worried about porn, I check under my son’s mattress all the time, and nothing is ever there.” Suffice it to say, she had a lot to learn. Long gone are the days of finding a Playboy in your brother’s closet or a “dirty movie” in mom or dad’s sock drawer, or sneakily changing the channel to “Skinimax” for 5 minutes at a time, hoping no one comes downstairs to see what you’re up to. Now, kids have access to hundreds of thousands of hours of free porn, and not just “regular porn”, but the kind of stuff that would have taken someone months and lots of $$$$$ to track down prior to the internet.
About this Blog:
I'm here to help us discuss sexuality, gender, and media by integrating information from academic and mainstream sources. I hope this resource produces more sexually competent people who raise sexually competent kids.