When my kids first started going out to dances, parties, or even just to sleep over at a friend’s house, we devised a plan for them to use in case they ever needed a safe way out of an uncomfortable predicament. For example, if they were at a party and their friends began drinking or doing something that they knew was inappropriate, they could text me with a code. That code would let me know that I needed to call them and tell them we had a family situation, and I was on my way to pick them up. Now I realize that you may think that is a lie, and technically, you are correct. But in reality, it truly was “a situation.” It was unhealthy and inappropriate, and my kid knew he should remove himself as quickly as possible. Because we had already discussed a plan of action, we all knew how to handle it should such an occasion arise. But these days, your children don’t have to go OUT to find themselves in a predicament that makes them uncomfortable, those circumstances seem to walk right on INTO your home through their mobile devices. And increasingly, those devices bring sexually explicit content with them. Now before you start thinking to yourself that “this will never happen to my kid”, let me give you a few statistics found in a study conducted in 2018 on sexting among adolescents. 1 in 7 tweens have sent a sexually explicit message, and 1 in 4 have received one. A study published in 2019 found that the number of girls asked to send a sext was twice that of the number of boys. And that same study also found that more than three times as many girls than boys felt pressured to sext. Apparently these days, it isn’t that uncommon for a boy to send a nude photo of himself to a girl he likes then ask her to respond with one of her own. More often than not, it will be followed with something like, “If you really like me, you will….” And sometimes, the requests come from complete strangers who have found your child through social media. It’s plain to see that by developing a plan with your child for if and when this situation occurs, you are helping to equip them to handle it in a healthy and appropriate manner. The key is to communicate in a calm and rational way. Give your child the tools to know what to do in that situation because as statistics show, they have a pretty good chance of becoming part of the statistic themselves.
Neptune Navigate Blog
Tips for online safety, security, and responsible digital citizenship for parents, kids, and families.