10 Ways To Protect Your Texting Kids

1. Explain the Dangers of "Sexting."
In other words, sending pictures with sexually explicit content. This practice is subject to prosecution as a criminal offense under laws prohibiting the distribution of child porn. Though the laws were targeted at adult abusers, they can be used to prosecute kids who send these types of images. Make sure your child knows that forwarding along sexually explicit pictures is illegal. Dr. Gwenn O'Keeffe, a pediatrician and CEO and founder of Pediatrics Now, an online health information website for parents, says moms should tell their children to let her know right away if they receive such pictures, and then delete them immediately.

Annie Tyler, of Richmond, Virginia, periodically checked the cell phone of her son, then 12. She was horrified to find among his pictures a shot of him "mooning" himself in the mirror. It was intended for a female friend but, fortunately, it wasn't sent successfully. She sat him down and told him he could be arrested. "He had just thought it was funny. It didn't occur to him that it could be considered pornography," said Tyler, who promptly replaced his phone with another without a camera. She hasn't had any trouble since then.

Kids are often stunned to learn that they can be prosecuted for sending as well as receiving such pictures. Molly MacDonald, a mother of five, in Beverly Hills, Michigan, has a son who received a nude photo from a girl who attended a Christian camp with him. His response when confronted: "Well, gee, Mom, she offered to send it to me..." Molly said she had a very serious talk with him about the consequences and what could happen if he forwarded that photo. Carole Lapidos, a social worker in Ann Arbor, Michigan who conducts parent workshops on raising teenagers, suggests including this topic during any cautionary talk you might have with your child about other risky behaviors, like drug and alcohol use.

NEXT: Encourage Face-To-Face Communication >>

How do you protect your kid from the dangers of texting? Share your thoughts below!

Read why one mom fears texting and driving
Sexting, trunking and smoking Smarties: 9 dangerous teen fads
Do you think "sexts" are pornographic?

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