Technology today is a very cool means to stay in touch with people you don’t see on an everyday basis. It can instantaneously connect family members and it has changed how we as human beings interact while apart. However, today’s modern technology can also have negative consequences for youth. Most parents have heard of the term “sexting”. Sexting is the exchange of nude or sexually suggestive images from one device to another. Sexting may be consensual, and sexts may be sent back and forth from two people, or sexts may be sent only from one person to the other. As a mom, this sends all sorts of scary thoughts into my head as far as the long-term consequences.
In videos and in TV shows, sexting is often portrayed as being a casual interaction between two people and portrayed as if it has no consequences. The truth is that someone under eighteen who takes a sexual picture, even of themselves, and sends it to someone can be charged with producing and distributing child pornography. If the receiver then forwards the image to someone else, the receiver can also be charged with distributing child pornography. The person who has the image in their device (phone, PC, laptop, tablet, etc.) is considered to be the owner of that image and can be implicated. Even if the image is deleted from the screen, the image is still in the internal memory of the device.
Apps such as snapchat or kik are promoted as a way to send an image that will disappear after a few seconds. If the receiver knows how to save a screen shot, the receiver will be able to store that image forever in the memory of the device. The sender ends up having NO control over who does or does not see the image or where it will go.
Talk to the children in your life about rules to use technology for all members of the family. Dock phones at bed time to promote good sleep and decrease bad middle of the night decisions. Place phones, TV and monitors out of sight during meal times so there is less distraction. Have a device free day one day a week or once or twice a month to encourage family members to talk to each other face to face.
Keep eating with your family three times a week to help ensure your children will know you are interested in their lives and that they can trust you to listen when they need to talk.
Director of Education & Curriculum