The “My Strip Generation”.

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New040808text4Yoursphere.com was recently referred to by Reader’s Digest as “Wanted: Peace of Mind” in the article, “Parent Alert: Teens and Porn”.  The article focused on how porn has gone interactive and our children are at risk.

The writer, Judith Newman, writes about how her seven year old son can’t spell, yet there’s one word he can spell perfectly: boob.

Judith let her son play with her iPhone. He told her he was playing on Club Penguin, yet when she turned the phone on, juggworld.com popped up.  Judith says after confronting him, her son told her that he was interested in the human body. While it made her laugh initially, this got Judith thinking about her son’s future.

How blase would her son be about porn by the time he was a teenager? How long until he partakes in sexting – the sending of nude photos over the Internet or cell phone?

The National Coalition for the Protection of Children & Families refers to teens who are “sexting” as the “My Strip” generation. They note that while some experts believe this behavior simply reflects a 21st Century manifestation of the age-old combination of teenage hormones and poor judgment, parents must be aware not only that “sexting” can be prosecuted under child porn laws in most states, but also that predators are waiting to groom kids for exploitation.

“While we knew that predators were preying upon children on social networking sites (like MySpace and Facebook) and chat rooms, we’ve now learned that sexual predators are utilizing wireless technology to ensnare their victims,” said Rick Schatz, president and CEO of the National Coalition.

One recent example is a 36-year old Evansville, Indiana, man who sent sexually explicit text messages to numerous eighth-grade students and later taped himself having sex with one of the victims.

Feeling like you want to take back the cell phone you gave your kids? Please don’t! All is not doom and gloom. We are parents, and even
though technology can sometimes be overwhelming, we’re not powerless!

Here’s what you can do:

  • Engage in an open and honest discussion with your kids about the topic. (I did…not just with my teens but with my eight and ten year old children. While the younger kids don’t have cell phones, it’s important that they understand what the issues are, albeit at a different level. It was more of a sad conversation than an uncomfortable one. Sad in the fact that we all felt bad for the 15 year old girl who was prosecuted and labeled as a sex offender as well as recognizing the crimes against children that should never have happened but did…because of a phone.)
  • Review your wireless cell phone provider’s parental controls. (I blogged about AT&T’s Smart Limits for example).
  • Review the National Coalition’s booklet: Sex and Cell Phones: Protect Your Children
  • Talk to your friends about this subject.
  • Check your children’s phone often.
  • Don’t allow them to put a password on their phone unless you know what it is.

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