JAMA PEDIATRICS PATIENT PAGE Sexting is defined as the sending or receiving of nude or seminude images or sexually explicit text messages and can happen when one person pressures another to send a nude or seminude photo. For teenagers, this scenario can happen between people who are dating or those who just started to like each other and one teen- Talking with your adolescent about sexting ager is asked to “prove” they like the other person. Sexting can also Start discussions about sexting early happen when one person sends a nude or seminude photo to an- Discuss sexting risks, including unwanted other without asking for consent first. Sexting can lead to the spread distribution of photos or messages and possible legal consequences of the photos or messages such that other people see them or dis- Emphasize that it is not ok tribute them. For teenagers, this can happen if a dating relation- to pressure someone into sexting ship ends; the couple gets in a fight; or a friend borrows the teen- or to be pressured ager’s phone, sees the photos, and sends them to others. Check in with your child regularly Thus, it may not be surprising to learn that sexting has many to answer questions and be supportive risks. These risks include emotional distress for those who are pres- sured to send these photos as well as those who receive these pho- tos. Sexting can also cause harm if photos are distributed widely, causing increased distress or embarrassment. Sexting can trigger le- gal consequences. However, sexting is not rare. Surveys have shown that approximately 12% to 16% of youths aged 10 to 19 years have sent a sexual photo to someone else. Why do adolescents engage in sexting? Adolescence is a time of lifeinwhichteenagersarelearningabouttheirownbodies,howtotake risks, and about romantic attractions. For some teenagers, engaging in sexting may feel like a way to explore their attraction to someone. It is recommended that rather than having one big talk about sexting, haveseveralsmalltalksovertimetocheckinonyourchild’sunderstand- ing, see if there are questions, and reinforce key messages. Remind Your Teenager of Their Own Worth Tips for Talking With Your Child About Sexting Let your child know that being pressured to send a sext is not okay, Start the Discussion Early nor is it a way to “prove” their love or show attraction. Let your child Starttheconversationwithyourchildbyaskingbroadquestionssuch know you understand it is hard to be pressured or dared to do some- as, “Have you heard of sexting? Tell me what you think it is.” You can thing but that they have the power to stand up for themselves. Re- thenframeyourconversationaroundhowmuchyourchilddoesordoes mind your teenager that they are worthy of respect. not know. Seeing a story in the news, community, or at your child’s schoolisagoodprompttocheckinagain.Emphasizetheconsequences of sexting as shown by situations in the news where it has gone badly. FOR MORE INFORMATION Use Examples Appropriate for Your Child’s Age For parents, Commonsense Media’s Sexting Handbook: For tweens with cell phones, let them know that text messages https://www.commonsensemedia.org/sites/default/files/uploads should never include images of anyone without clothes. For teen- /landing_pages/sexting_handbook_ce_1020_1_.pdf agers, be specific about what sexting is and that it can lead to seri- For teenagers, to help resist cyber peer pressure: ous consequences. For all ages, remind them that once an image is https://www.thatsnotcool.com sent, it is no longer in their control and they cannot get it back. What is online or sent via text can exist forever and be sent to others. Author: Megan A. Moreno, MD, MSEd, MPH The JAMA Pediatrics Patient Page is a public service of JAMA Pediatrics.The information and recommendations appearing on this page are appropriate in most Published Online: February 26, 2018. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2017.5745 instances, but they are not a substitute for medical diagnosis. For specific information Conflict of Interest Disclosures: None reported. concerning your child’s medical condition, JAMA Pediatrics suggests that you consult your child’s physician. This page may be photocopied noncommercially by physicians and other health care professionals to share with patients. To purchase bulk reprints, call 312/464-0776. 400 JAMA Pediatrics April 2018 Volume 172, Number 4 (Reprinted) jamapediatrics.com © 2018 American Medical Association. All rights reserved.
JAMA Pediatrics – American Medical Association
Published: Apr 26, 2018
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