Does your middle school or high school child carry a cell phone? Do you know what they are doing with their phone? Have you ever checked to see what kind of messages or photos he or she has been sending or receiving?
If not then perhaps you should, per a new study recently published in the journal Pediatrics.
The study focused on middle school kids ages 12 to 14 from five different urban public schools in Rhode Island. Four hundred and twenty students were surveyed using yes or no answers to questions about whether or not they have sexted anyone else. Students were asked several questions ranging from if they’ve texted any kind of flirtatious message to anyone in the past six months to if they have participated in any kissing, sexual touching or sexual acts.
Results of the study showed that 17% of middle school kids said they are sexting messages and another 5% said they send both sexual messages and sexually explicit photos. That means that 1 out of every 4 to 5 middle school kids are engaging in some form of sexting.
I’ve heard some parents say that it’s just harmless adolescent behavior and that there is nothing wrong with it. However, they may be, or should I say they should be, more concerned than they are if they knew that the study showed that kids who sext are four to seven times more likely to engage in sexual fondling, oral and vaginal sex than kids who don’t sext. The kids who admitted to sending explicit sexual photos are even more likely to engage in sex than those who send sexual text messages.
So what can parents do to protect their kids? I suggest that parents regularly check their kids’ cell phones for messages and images. Yeah I know that some liberal human rights people claim that this is an invasion of privacy, but as long as a child is a minor, living in your house and you’re paying for the cell phone, not only should you have that right but you also have that responsibility to protect your child from sexual predators.
There are some apps out there that can monitor your child’s activities on their phones and social media sites and recommend parents use them if necessary. I’m just glad that my kids grew up in the time before cell phones and social media. My eleven year old granddaughter who just started middle school this year has asked for a cell phone and thankfully her mother said no before I did.
The bottom line is that parents need to stay informed about what their kids are saying and doing. They need to know what they are posting on social media and texting on their cell phones. If parents don’t stay informed and monitor their kids, they are leaving them vulnerable to the ways of the world and to sexual predators. There are too many parents in America today that wish they had taken the time to monitor their kids, but it’s too late for many parents. Their kids fell victim to sexual predators and were either scarred for life or killed. The parents of young suicide victims wish they had paid more attention to their kids texting and social media.
You need to ask yourself how important are your kids and grandkids to you? Are they worth protecting or are you just going to throw them to the world? Parents, it’s up to you and you alone.