Thanks to Congressman Weiner many adults are now less ignorant about the phenomenon known as "sexting." Your teenager, likely snickering in the background at your reaction to the recent nhttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifews, has known about sexting for quite a while. And now is the time to talk to your teenager.
Start with a discussion but don't lead the discussion. Tell them you are just becoming aware of this and want to know what sexting experiences they might have "observed." If your child believes you are about to attack them you won't learn anything and the point is to first and foremost learn what your teenager has experienced to date. So ask what they have observed then listen. Dispassionately! If you react and start lecturing you won't learn anything. Just listen!
After they tell you the sexting involving their "friends" ask if they have had any such experiences. If you have been quietly listening and taking it all in, this might be when you really hear some revelations. Keep listening! Even if you are shocked, or upset, keep listening!
Ask your teenager what they think about the current news - an adult man contacting young women having racy conversations and sharing inappropriate pictures. Keep listening. Now is when you will learn something about the underlying moral values you have already instilled in your child. You will also learn how their point of view about sharing things online may be different from yours. Later you will have a conversation about these things but right now you are still eliminating your own ignorance and gathering information.
Ask your teenager if there is anything on their computer or their phone which they wouldn't want a family member to see. Their facial expression will relate volumes and may not match the answer they give. Your goal is to have this be open communication so if you jump into discipline mode now this conversation wilhttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifl be over. And you will have ruined the chance to have conversations about deep and important topics later.http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif
End the conversation now. Period! You need time to process what your child has told you and they need to see this was a safe conversation. You will have opened the door to further talks if you end the conversation without reacting. Thank them for helping you understand this phenomenon and invite further conversation.
At a later time, if discipline and parental oversight are needed, move into that role. When you do here are a few resources. I will share further resources as I find them, and I will share parental oversight suggestions and tips in a future posting. Today's message was to start a conversation and then LISTEN!
Connect Safely: Tips to Prevent Sexting
Talking about Sexting