A newly released study indicates that sexting remains prevalent among youth.
Dr. Colleen Fogarty, the Medical Director at Highland Family Medicine and the Associate Chair for Interprofessional Education, discussed sexting and the steps parents and adults can take to curb it Thursday during News 8 at Sunrise.
“Sexting is defined as the sending over electronic portals of any images that are inappropriate, sexually suggestive, or engaged in sex acts,” explained Dr. Fogarty. “A team of investigators actually analyzed 37 big studies of over 100,000 youth and found that sexting is quite common. About 15 percent of youth in these studies had sent a text and 27 percent had received one.”
Dr. Fogarty said for parents or adult role models it’s important not to panic over these new statistics. “Just like sexual education in general, we want to start early and often. So talking with younger children about their bodies, how their bodies are their own and are not able to be touched by other people, so you can train your younger children in proper media communication using a cell phone or computer device.”
Parents should also monitor their kids cell phones. “The usual recommendations for safe internet use apply to this as well, knowing what sites your kids are using, being able to be connected with them through the social media sites like Snapchat or Facebook, whatever they use, and having them recognize their are limits to the time and content that they’re able to send,” said Dr. Fogarty.
It should be noted sexting is illegal and that should serve as a strong deterrent for children.
Dr. Fogarty recommended a link from Cyberbulling.org that talks about tips for teens around sexting. “Mostly it’s maintaining safety, declining to send images upon request, those kinds of things. And it’s also important to realize that this can be a form of cyberbullying, if there’s a relationship with a power dynamic, and young people need to know that being expected to send these kinds of images is not a sign of a healthy relationship.”