Q&A: Cell Phone Safety

Each week Michele Borba answers your parenting questions right here on her blog. If you have a parenting problem or question leave a comment on this post and you may have yours answered next week!

My thirteen year old daughter was recently asked to by a friend of hers who happens to be boy to send him a naked picture of herself over the phone. She was smart enough to tell me about it and we discussed all the reasons why someone should never ever do that, yet just last week I found out that she did send him a picture of herself in her bra and panties, which actually had her more covered than her bikini and luckily she hasn't developed yet. But I'm freaking out. I can't believe she was that stupid after all our discussions. I've taken her phone away and the boy swears he deleted the picture and didn't show anyone and I can only hope that we can trust him. Meanwhile, I haven't told my husband because I'm afraid his head would explode which I feel so guilty about, I never keep secrets from him. I'm so embarrassed at my daughter's stupidity that I can't tell anyone so that's why I guess I really needed this vent. --Tricia

I understand why you need to vent. This is scary stuff. If there's good news in this it is that you have an open relationship with your daughter. For your thirteen-year-old to tell you she sent a photo to her boyfriend in her underwear is huge. You've done something very right to create that openness. You talked about the reasons it is wrong and you took away her cell phone. You did all the right things. So I'm just going to add a few tips here:

1. Keep talking and talking. That discussion has to be an ongoing dialogue. Teens need far more than one time discussions about such serious issues.

2. Research shows the brain of a teen is still developing and those parts that help kids understand "if... then..." aren't always there. It's why you're shocked she did this (regardless of how smart she is) and it's why so many kids are doing very careless and potentially dangerous things. They don't see the consequences. Keep talking consequences about every issue so she learns to start thinking things through. ("if you did that, what could happen?")

3. You might want to cut down on phone features if/when you do decide it's time to give it back to her.  No internet or picture capabilities.

4. Talk about sex, although I'm sure you're already aware of this.  She is clearly engaging in promiscuous behavior. If she feels comfortable sending her boyfriend a photo of her in her underwear and he wants one of her nude- they're "fairly comfortable", mom. Time to make sure you're talking about birth control precautions.

The photo still concerns me, however.  How do you know the boy destroyed it? Posting such photos on Facebook and Myspace are big these days. If these two break up and there is any animosity it's common for kids to post such a photo. That would be devastating for your daughter since the world would see it. Consider talking to that boy. Getting a copy of it. Do you trust him? You might need to get your husband involved because the potential seriousness of the issue.

Click here to read more of Michele Borba's Q&As, or leave a comment below with your own questions and it may be answered next week.

12Secrets_Borba.jpgDr. Michele Borba is the author of over 22 books including 12 Simple Secrets Real Moms Know .

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