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Ask the Pediatrician: How can parents talk to teens about sexting?

Dr. Yolanda (Linda) Reid Chassiakos, American Academy of Pediatrics on

Published in Health & Fitness

Q: My daughter is on her cellphone a lot. How do I talk to her about sexting and other privacy concerns?

A: Sexting is the sending or receiving of sexually explicit images, videos or text messages using a smartphone, computer, tablet, video game or digital camera. It's not something any parent wants to think about their child doing, and it may be uncomfortable to talk about. But the fact is that sexting is something kids will find out about at some point.

This is why it's important to talk about sexting with your child early, so they have the information they need to make healthy decisions.

There has been a significant jump in the number of kids and teens with access to smartphones. According to a 2021 Common Sense Media survey, an estimated 88% of 13- to 18-year-olds and 43% of 8- to 12-year-olds have smartphones.

It's not too surprising, then, that sexting is more common among kids and teens these days. A 2021 study on sexting among youth found that 19.3% had sent a sext, 34.8% had received a sext, and 14.5% had forwarded one without consent.

There are many risks of sending and sharing sexts that you should be aware of.

 

Mental health and sexual behavior

Young people who sext are more likely to:

— Have depression and/or anxiety.

— Commit minor crimes.

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