Here is what you can do to keep your child safe with his or her cell phone:
1. Educate yourself on teen use of sexting and porn on their cell phones and online.
2. Talk to your kids about the consequences of sexting and porn use.
3. Set up appropriate boundaries for cell phone use. Some cell carriers have parental controls you can put into place to decrease the chances of unwanted access to inappropriate material.
4. Monitor your child's text logs online. Parents, a word of caution, you want to monitor texts to protect your child, not to punish them for inappropriate behavior. Teach what appropriate and inappropriate behavior on the cell phone is and try not to ground them until they are 35.
5. Set up filters on your kids phones. If you discover the problem behavior is continuing after you have had a couple of talks with your child you may need to set up cell phone filters. There are several on the market that block down web browsers on their phone and that monitor what they communicate on social media and text messages. Some parents may choose to set up filters as a condition of the child having a cell phone.
6. Have ongoing discussions with your kids about appropriate and inappropriate sexual behavior. A conversation about sex helps to build respect between you and your child. Listen to them; ask them about what they already understand. Gently correct any misunderstandings your child has about sex. Help them to understand your values and morals around sexuality. The worst thing you can do is ignore the subject of sexuality with your child. If all you do is say nothing, then kids will be more curious and rebellious. Take the time to teach your kids when sex is appropriate and when it is not.
7. If you feel ill prepared, seek professional help. If you are uncomfortable talking to your child about sex or struggle with your own sexual behaviors get help. Teaching your child about healthy sexuality is one of the best things you can do for your child.
Remember parents, technology is here to stay. Your children have never lived in a world without it. We need to meet kids in their instant access world and make up the rules for their safety along the way. Many of us parents grew up with land line phones, no cable, no internet and no Facebook. Therapists are responding to ever increasing numbers of families seeking help with sexting, cyber bullying and online porn use by grade school kids to teens and young adults. Our kids have more access to sexually inappropriate material then we can ever imagine. Let's be as proactive as we can and help our kids stay safe. Is It OK to Spoil Your Kids?
Journey to Abundant Life with Teresa Maples MS, LMHC, CSAT