Is Your Child Sexting?

Filed under: In The News, Research Reveals: Tweens, Research Reveals: Teens

The latest topic of concern: Sexting.
Credit: D Sharon Pruitt, Flickr

Maybe you got your child a cell phone because you wanted her to be armed in case of an emergency.

Or maybe you got it simply because you were tired of hearing her begging pleas. Whatever the reason, 27 percent of preteens (ages 9 to 12) and 75 percent of teens (ages 13 to 17) now have their own cell phones, says a report released last month by the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health. (Download the report in PDF form here.)

And while many parents (41 percent, to be exact) are concerned with the amount of time their children spend texting, there's another topic of concern: Sexting. A mash-up of sex and texting, sexting is when sexually explicit material is shared through a text message or cell phone photo.

Among children with cell phones, 87 percent reported using the devices to send and receive text messages. (There's no stat about how many admit to sending sexts.)

In attempts to control the types of messages sent and received, 55 percent of parents limit the time children can use their phones. In a more extreme option, parents can block the image transmission option on phones. We didn't even know you could do that, but 45 percent of preteen parents and 29 percent of teen parents already use such a service.

Interested? Call your cell phone carrier; most will block image content for a small monthly fee (usually $5 to $10).

Regardless of what methods of protection you use, the poll's author suggests establishing ground rules and expectations before handing over a cell phone to your child.

Related: Is It Bad To Cyber-Spy on Your Teen?, Teen "Sexting" Isn't All That Dangerous

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.