Sexting is no secret to anyone who hasn’t been living under a rock for the last five years. It’s becoming more problematic every day as more and more kids are given smart phones but not the education and rules that should come with it.
Today, you can turn on your TV and see that sexting has gained a mainstream audience by way of popular teen-focused TV shows like Glee and NFL quarterbacks like Brett Favre. In a sense, popular media outlets like the NFL or Glee have glamorized sexting (In the Glee episode “Hairography”, Santana was quoted as saying “My sexts are too hot to erase”). Sure, the subliminal message may be that sexting is wrong and that kids shouldn’t engage in it, but they’re turning the issue into a form of entertainment that, obviously, has a deeper influence on young society than we can see on the surface.
“It’s going on in every school- in school, out of school, on the bus, at home and on the computers”. That’s what a local Georgia middle-school student had to say during an interview for a recent article on the topic. Other middle school students said that many girls give in to the peer pressure and send sexts, thinking it’s a fun, flirty and sexy present for the boy they like.
To be clear, I’m not knocking Glee or the NFL. This idea of “glamorization” is prevalent in dozens of TV shows—just turn on VH1 or MTV if you don’t believe me. These TV stations have gone beyond glamorizing promiscuous behavior in their shows and have turned these “reality” TV actors into superstars. But the bottom line is we can’t just sit back and let sexting become “a normal thing” because they show it happening on TV shows or they show a famous football player being interviewed on ESPN because he got caught sexting. Allowing sexting to gain the same mainstream acceptance as LOL or OMG did would be nothing but bad news for our children. Just because most people—adults and children—have a cell phone capable of sexting, doesn’t mean the problem should seen as a “normal” thing, nor should it be seen as impossible to fix.
The question to consider is if this mainstream attention on sexting is a good thing by virtue of acting as a reminder to parents that they should talk to their kids about the issue, or if it’s a bad thing by letting kids know how to sext and that their favorite NFL QB and Glee character are doing it too. For now, I’d set aside the latter and hope that parents see it as an opportunity to educate their children about sexting and the consequences that can follow it.
Another important thing for parents to remember is that there’s plenty of cell-phone monitoring software out there. Services like Kajeet or AT&T Smart Limits are there to help you and your child balance their cell phone usage, as well as monitor the message they receive and send. These options may be more useful for your younger kids, so if you have older children you might want to take a more sit-down-and-talk approach and let them know what the consequences are for sexting as they can literally be life changing and often tragic. On the other hand, parents need to remember that they can take a more direct approach to the problem and just get rid of the smart phones altogether; require an “open phone policy” relationship between them and their child(ren), or deactivating the camera on their child’s phone.
Here’s how you can deactivate the camera on the iPhone:
First things first – Go into the phones Settings.
Next, scroll down and look for the tab called “Restrictions”. Currently, it should say “Off”.
Once you’ve tapped on that, at the top, click on “Enable Restrictions”. This will trigger a prompt for a password. Don’t forget this password, there’s no way to retrieve it.
Once you’ve done this you’ll be able to disable any function that you see on the screen. Flipping the switch on the Camera app to “Off” will remove it from the iPhone’s interface. If there’s a special event and your younger child needs the camera you can simply follow the same steps above and just flip the switch on the phone from “Off” to “On”.
Either way, if you’re not okay with the mainstream attention that sexting is receiving you should become involved, proactive, and dialogue with your children on a daily basis.