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When we were kids our parents worried if we were eating our veggies, getting enough fresh air and minding our “P’s and Q’s” (whatever that means). Today, parents have so much more to worry about. It seems every day we are faced with another technological monster we never even saw coming. For the past few weeks and months the newest of these has been growing in popularity, we even have a new word for it, “Sexting.” In many states (even here in Oregon), children are facing felony charges for foolish indiscretions with their cell phones. Sexting is the use of cell phones to send a nude or scantily clad picture of yourself (or others)to others. In a recent article from the Wall Street Journal Ashby Jones writes, “For years we’ve been telling parents to put the computer in the living room, keep an eye on what your children are doing, go and hit the history button and review where they’ve been. Well, all that advice holds true but it gets completely upended by mobile phones, PDA’s, and anything that can walk around.” You can read the full article on the Wall Street Journal Blog

Lawmakers are trying to catch up with what has been deemed by some to be a witch hunt, when in actuality it is simply the newest version of “risk taking behavior” of teens. None the less, our teens need to be aware that the jury is still out on how prosecutors will see these indiscretions. Parents are still responsible for the education and monitoring of all technological devices placed in the hands of their kids. Few parents know they have the ability to disable cameras, web connections and other devices that get kids into trouble. You can call your carrier and ask for the “Data Opt Out” feature. Your child’s phone will not have the ability to connect to the internet, text picture and sometimes even to take pictures. Each company has slightly different features in the “opt out program”, but may be something you will want to check into. Checking for history on your computers is also a good way to check to make sure your child hasn’t sent or received pictures via the computer by way of webcams, uploads or the family camera.

Sexting is not just a bad idea because of the legal ramifications, but it can also lead to horrible bullying. By posting incriminating photos of yourself out on the World Wide Web, that can never be deleted….EVER, you are giving bullies fodder for the most  excruciating episodes of bullying we have never seen. At least one such incident has lead to the suicide of a young woman earlier this year. You can watch the poignant news clip as a reporter shares the story of a girl tormented by bullies who obtained picture she had foolishly texted her boyfriend earlier in the year. After an terrible senior year of constant bullying, she hung herself, senselessly ending a beautiful, hopeful life. Watch the Today show footage for the full picture.

With all the negative coverage on technology and teens misuse of it, we often forget the benefits of technology. Often kids are just staying in touch with friends and family near and far. The site below is a great tutorial with very current, relevant advise and information to parents on uses and trends in teen’s technology. If you are worried about your teen and their use of technology, please don’t hesitate to call me so we can set up an appointment to discuss these issues and the best way to avoid serious ramifications.

Find out more here