“Sexting” & Keeping Our Kids Safe

March 25, 2009

by Carol Politi

Every day we are hearing more and more about how kids are getting into trouble with the pictures they are sending to their friends on their cell phones.  “Sexting”, if you are not familiar with the term, is the trend where teens are “using their cell phones and computers to send risqué photos of themselves.”

This is landing more kids than you might think in extremely embarrassing situations and even in legal trouble.  And sexting is impacting kids emotionally during middle school and high school – a time when many view their reputation with their peers to be the most important thing in the world to them.

What can parents do to guide their kids toward responsible use of picture technology – both on the phone and on-line?  Some ideas:

1.  Set up a contract!  If you are getting your child a new kajeet phone, use this as an opportunity to walk through the account controls and talk about appropriate use of the phone.  Discuss whether they are ready to send pictures at the press of a button, or whether this function should be turned off for the phone.  You might consider getting them to draft an agreement in writing discussing what pictures are appropriate to send and what pictures are not appropriate.

2.  Monitor your kids account.  Even kids with what we might think is extremely good judgment sometimes make mistakes.  You can login into kajeet.com to view the phone account activity which shows every number to which picture messages are sent.

3.  Consider viewing the pictures your kids are sending.  There is nothing better than real time guidance about what’s appropriate.  If you see your kid sent one or more picture messages, perhaps you can talk to them about sexting and ask them to show you the phone and the pictures that were sent.

4.  Have them do some reading on the topic.  Real kids are getting hurt every day by sending the wrong pictures – often to friends or boyfriends who think it is funny to share them around.   A quick google search on the topic will show up many, many articles that might be the reading required to drive this point home.

We find that every family has a different approach toward dealing with issues like this.  Some families prefer phones without cameras (we offer that option!).  Others turn off picture messaging and just allow their kids to take pictures that remain on the phone (to do this just go into the kajeet Feature Manager and turn Picture Messaging “Off”).    Still others prefer to make these services available, and to monitor and guide their use.  At kajeet we want to give you the tools required to make sure you can manage cell phone service in the manner that works for your family.

Have you had a discussion with your child on sexting?  How are you managing the use of pictures in your family?

One Response to ““Sexting” & Keeping Our Kids Safe”

  1. Richard Says:

    Want to Stop Sexting, CyberBullying & Digital Disease?

    The Institute for Responsible Online and Cell-Phone Communication has an effective method for dealing with the vast number of digital issues we are aware of (like the trend du jour known as “sexting”), and those that we will be aware of soon.

    Despite this fact however, our nation and media seem to be content with treating these digital, 21st century issues, with an “old school” 20th century approach. Unfortunately, based on past headlines regarding “spyware” and “cyber bullying” and now with the national fixture of sexting in the news, it appears we are failing an entire digital generation.

    Fortunately however, there is an effective way to save this new generation for those of us willing to listen. It is through The Institute for Responsible Online and Cell-Phone Communication’s concept of “Responsibility 2.1C”.

    Think about it…

    1: Can you honestly say that you have never been irresponsible either as a kid touching a hot stove, or smoking (underage), or drinking underage, or trying drugs?

    2: Did you always listen to your parents, teachers or caretakers when they told you not to do these things and offered you a ton of information about why you shouldn’t?

    3: Have you ever been irresponsible or break the law as an adult (e.g. speeding, running a red light)?

    4: Have you ever posted your status on Facebook as “On Vacation”, “Traveling” or “Out”?

    Well if you answered “NO” to any of the questions above (even # 4), your life may have been over at a very young age (or it could be altered soon) as is the case for many people of today’s digital generation, because it only takes a few seconds of irresponsibility online to ruin your life.

    For Example: Lighting up a cigarette, or trying a beer at the age of 17 most of the time, will not instantly alter your life, or affect your loved one’s lives, or the life or someone halfway around the globe. However, as we have read lately, in the time it takes a 17 year old to press the send button on a cell phone with a naked picture attached (less time to finish a drag of a cigarette or sip of beer) he/she could be placed in jail and registered as a sex offender.

    Simply saying, “don’t do that” to a kid or flooding them with “tip sheets” and facts did not work when you were one, so why would it work now? The real difference and alarming issue is that the digital technologies available to our youth deliver instant consequences that can alter their life. Fortunately, it appears that the Institute’s concept of Responsibility 2.1C may just be the way to reach this new generation.

    Richard Guerry, the visionary behind the concept of “Responsibility 2.1C” and co-founder of The Institute for Responsible Online and Cell-Phone Communication recently stated that “We as a nation need to provide direct proactive communication of Digital Responsibility (Responsibility 2.1C) to a new generation. We cannot be reactionary treating today’s digital issues, and we cannot resolve them with 20th century threats, reprimand and curriculum.” He went on to say, “The real problem is our youth has grown up learning what we call responsibility 1.0 or offline responsibility. They do not understand the scope of the repercussions when they invoke poor (digital) judgment because they have not been proactively taught digital responsibility or what we call, responsibility 2.1C. We cannot apply 20th century solutions to 21st century issues.”

    Find out more about how you can support The Institute for Responsible Online and Cell-Phone Communication and help them save your community by visiting http://www.iroc2.org

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