Sexting Could Mar the Rest of Your Teenager's Life

We need to protect teenagers from adult sexual predators, and we need to protect them from bullies. But we must also protect them from themselves.

This opinion piece by Nina Funnell, from the Sydney Morning Herald, tells of two Australian teenagers who sent nude photos of themselves to each other. They were charged and prosecuted for trafficking in child pornography, and are now listed as sex offenders, "branding them criminals and ruining their career prospects."

No sane person would argue against the need for laws that protect minors from adult sexual exploitation. But depending on how they are written and enforced, these laws can get the teenagers themselves into serious trouble. To make matters worse, the laws can be conflicting and confusing, both for adolescents and their parents.

Parents should consider the legal ramifications that could ensue if their adolescent is caught sending salacious or obscene texts or photos to a peer via cellphone--a practice commonly referred to as sexting. Research the laws in your state or country. If you live in the United States, an excellent place to start is sexlaws.org. Check out the Answer Board for laws in your particular state. You might also want to read Sexting Teens Facing Felony Charges For Misuse Of Cell Phones and Why teens Sext.

Make sure your teenagers know about the local laws, and the possible consequences of breaking them. Let them know about other, social consequences, as well. With teenagers, a text or photo meant for one particular person can easily find its way around the entire school.

One more suggestion: if your teenager has an Android phone, install Trend Micro's Mobile Security (available as a stand-alone product and as part of Titanium Maximum Security). On the program's opening screen, press the Surf, Call, Text Security button, then check Parental Controls. Here you can control what web sites your minor can access.

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