The media has sadly brought attention to a recent sexting scandal in North County San Diego. Most children have phones and use them to communicate with family and friends. Sometimes use of this technology could lead to serious problems such as distribution or possession of child pornography.
It is critical that parents teach children responsible use of their phone technologies. Children and teens have difficulty comprehending the long-term consequences of this technology. Therefore, it is imperative that parents teach and monitor the proper use of their phones to prevent negative consequences of such use.
Several tips will be provided for parents to assist their children in using their phones responsibly.
- Understand the technology that your child is using. Know about your child’s phone, as well as social network sites, gaming systems and chat sites. Some of these could have messaging and photo-sharing options.
- Teach and remind your kids that once an image or data is sent, it can never be retrieved. They will lose control of it and how it is used. Talk to your kids about how they would feel if their teachers, parents, friends and the entire school saw the picture or the information that was sent would be perceived. Discuss your expectations and the potential legal and social ramifications of sending inappropriate pictures or information and distributing them online.
- Talk about the pressures to send revealing or sexually suggestive photos. Let your children know that you understand how they can be pressured or dared into sending such photos. Inform them that no matter the degree of the social pressure, the potential social humiliation can be much worse.
- Communicate house rules. A child should have pre-established house rules before they receive a phone. Beneficial rules to maintain the privilege of using a cell phone can include the following:
Phone will be charged at night in parents room (Parents can review contents and keeps kids from texting all night). Grades must be maintained at a certain level. Children must be a productive member of the family. Check your phone bill and make sure you recognize all numbers on it. Inquire about any number that you do not recognize.
As the parent, you pay the bill and own the phone. Therefore, you have the right and responsibility to be a good watchdog. Privacy has to do with changing clothes and going to the bathroom, not ignoring all of their tech communication.
SafetyNet, a program of the San Diego Police Foundation, www.SmartCyberChoices.org offers additional resources for parents.
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A.C.T. will provide free resource information for individuals and families to help promote education. For more information, please contact Dr. Drecun at Dr.Drecun@a4ct.com or (858) 792-3541. You may also visit us online at www.a4ct.com. ACT serves the Del Mar 92014 and Rancho Santa Fe 92067 area.