Georgia Carson, guest contributor

If you are concerned that your kids are sexting, chances are that they are. Scary? Absolutely! An article on What Every Parent Should Know About Sexting reported that 39% of teens and 59% of young adults have sexted at least once. They also define sexting as the act of sending sexually explicit message via SMS or texting.

The huge risk is that if the child is under 18 years of age they can be charged with transmitting child porn, even if the pictures are of them. In addition, once the picture is “out there” it cannot be taken back. The boyfriend they trust today can turn into the X-boyfriend who is out for vengeance and their sexually explicit picture can be forwarded to any number of people, over and over again.

If you are seeing text messages you don’t understand, you can consult a sexting dictionary that will put the code slang in plain explicit English.

Sexting laws affect your child and can have severe consequences for you. Sexting is a felony in the second degree; the laws are very harsh and were put in place to protect children from exploitation, which can penalize the child even when they are engaging in consenting activity. Your child could be required to register as a sex offender. All states in the U.S. have laws to protect minors from exploitation through sexually explicit images. Some states have addressed separate sexting laws, but if they don’t your child could be charged with child pornography. If your child is arrested for sexting, law enforcement could show up at your door to confiscate all computers, cell phones and smartphones.

What your kids do on their cell phone or smartphone is far from anonymous. They can be tracked using GPS or their IP address and if found guilty could be subject to arrest, fines, imprisonment and being labeled for life as a sex offender.

So what is a parent to do?

First, have a serious conversation with your teen about the law and the possibility that the sexually explicit text message could be distributed much further than intended. Will they hate you for it? That is a real possibility! The teenage years have been defined as “Teenage – young enough to know you can, old enough to know you shouldn’t, and stupid enough to do it anyway.”

Second, make sure you know what they are doing! Stealth monitoring programs can let you see all of their text messages, so if you suspect they are getting into dangerous ground you can and should take their phone away. They may hate you for a very long time but you can save them from themselves and that is often the position parents must take.

Third, be consistent, firm and love them anyway. They won’t be teenagers all their lives and if you hold the line on behavior standards, someday they will thank you for it, maybe silently, but they will thank you all the same!


Georgia Carson writes passionately about parenting and for PhoneSheriff an app to monitor text messages.