When I was in my teens, smartphones weren’t really a “thing”. Sure, we had mobile phones, but they were big clunky things and you couldn’t even text on them unless you paid for the texting “service”. Plus, they were pretty much confined to older people, not “grandpa” old, but basically old enough to pay for their mobile phone and bill.
Not only that, relationships and flirting have developed online and in fact gone to extremes. Take sexting as an example. For the uninitiated, it basically involves sending sexually explicit texts, but with the various instant messaging apps (WhatsApp being one), you can now send images and videos too.
Now, being a parent myself, I know it can be hard to imagine your sweet little child engaging in this sort of a thing, but let’s face it, kids aren’t kids for long, and they’ll soon become inquisitive adolescents. Many parents I know have already taken precautions by using a parental control app to keep an eye on their kids’ digital communications, and I’m thinking of doing the same.
However, I think that such a precaution alone won’t be enough to discourage youngsters from sending racy texts, photos, and videos. They’ll find a way around it and, for me, the only effective and long-term solution to the problem is awareness. As long as teens remain oblivious to the risks of sexting and its potential impact on their life and reputation, they’ll have little reason to resist the temptation or refrain from succumbing to the peer pressure of adopting the trend
From behind a phone screen, it might seem like harmless fun, but it can have consequences for both your child and the person on the receiving end. There’re social and legal consequences as well as a possibility of retaliation, so I’m going to ensure that my son is aware of the damage that a few “fun” messages might do.
It’s not just teenagers of course. The endless YouTube messages and Facebook responses that have caused hurt over the years are yet another example of where people have fired off messages from behind a screen without necessarily thinking of the consequences.