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  Prevent teen ‘sexting’

Do you give your teens their very own mobile device, like a smart phone or tablet, so they can share pictures, tweets, messages and videos with their friends and family? I’m sure for many parents, the answer is, “Yes.” If so, there’s a gift you can give yourself at the moment you hand them their mobile device.
 
That gift is reconnaissance software to monitor every picture, text and piece of data your children send electronically.
 
This simple piece of advice is coming from many members of the law enforcement community in an effort to reduce the number of teens who fall victim to a side of “sexting” our teens never anticipate. The consequences of sexting, which refers to sending nude photos by cellphone, can be more than embarrassing for your child if others share their compromising image – they can be criminal. And the impact on your teen when photos they intended to be private turn up on pornography websites can last forever as nothing ever truly is private on the internet.
 
Here are some other tips to prevent teen sexting:
·         Draft a contract with your teen, holding them accountable for their use of their electronic devices. Talk with your child about sexting to be sure they not only know how to protect themselves but also know potential consequences.
·         Investigate your phone carrier’s paid programs to help you monitor your teen’s use of data.
·         Keep up-to- date on the latest trends and rules of the digital age so your efforts stay current with ever-changing technology.
·         If your child is victimized by someone online, report it to cybertipline.com and to your local law enforcement agency.


Want to know more? Check out this tip sheet for parents by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and this resource page on ConnectSafely.com.