Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Conversation All Parents Must Have BEFORE Their Child Carries a Cell Phone

I will never forget my 13th birthday. I wore a dress and glasses that I now abhor but can still remember the sense of elation that came in opening my very own phone. Not only was I getting one for my room, but it was THE phone. You know, the clear kind that had colored components inside. It was uber cool and it was mine.

If my parents wanted, they still could have chosen to listen in because the phones were corded. After all, in those days (and I’m pretty young) phones were actually used for talking…voice to voice communication. Welcome to 2012. THE phone is no longer a corded phone with colored components that you are lucky enough to have if you had the proper jack to plug it in to in your room. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if many of today’s teens haven’t seen corded phones. THE phone would probably be named the iPhone, which actually doesn’t even require people to press buttons. They can speak and Siri will do it all for them. Oh how quickly times change…

As you can imagine, the change in technology has ushered in a change in how teens are communicating. And, this week yet another reminder has surfaced reminding we parents that we need to talk with our kids before trouble begins. First news of cyberbullying allegedly leading to a teen’s suicide and now information on the frequency of teens texting.

I’ll take a moment to let you take a gander in your mind as to how many texts today’s teens send on average. Got your number?????

According to the Pew Internet & Family Life Project, teenagers today send an average of 60 texts per day.

I’ll be the first to admit that I love text messaging. It offers a quiet ease and wonderful convenience for simple messages and plan making.

However, this too is a privilege and WHAT we text matters.

And this leads to a conversation that must be had. Shockingly, one in five teens is involved in sexting, or sending sexually suggestive word or photo content. Of those who sent the sexts, 43% were asked, 40% just wanted to have fun, 21% were trying to impress someone, and 8% were hoping to try and get a date. Insert here major heart palpitations. Relationships started this way are sure to end in disaster so let’s divert that train now with some helpful advice on healthy approaches to teen dating relationships.

Some of these voices are shared in Who’s In Your Social Network.

Here’s the even more scary news. 9% say that their photo ended up online where anyone could view it, 12% accidentally sent it to the wrong person, and 30% say their photo was forwarded on by the receiver to someone they didn’t want to see it.

Despite this, 23% of teens feel sexting is fine as long as both the sender and receive think it’s okay and 48% think adults are overreacting about the whole issue, but get this

Sexting is child pornography and those sending AND receiving these texts are being punished by law.

Teens around the country have been charged and put on sex offender registries because they are making mobile device decisions completely unaware of the severe consequences they carry. And, if you think this is just a big city problem, guess again. It’s happening everywhere.

Two decades ago “sexting” was an unknown word my parents didn’t face. Today it is common terminology that I will have to address with my girls before they get their first cell phones. It might not be a fun conversation to have, but MUCH better a little discomfort on the early side than the conversation filled with heartbreak and penalty after it is too late.

Texting is a wonderful feature, but we all need to remember that it is like squeezing toothpaste from the toothpaste tube. Whatever is texted out there is "out there" for good.

Keep talkin' parents!

Statistics shared from InternetSafety101.

1 comment:

  1. This is such an important topic! Our children (Aged 12 & 10) do not have cell phones, and we have no plans to allow them to have one. They say that "everyone else" has one, and I am afraid that they are not far from the truth. I am very frightened for this generation, and I can't even IMAGINE what the next on will be facing! Thank you for bringing such an important topic to the forefront. The statistics that you listed are staggering, and I believe that those percentages are actually MUCH higher than are being reported!


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