Saturday, December 11, 2010


I’m a guest at the GEN MOBILE event sponsored by the FCC on Tuesday, Dec. 14th at 10am. It’s an event for teens and parents regarding the usage and abuses of cellphones in today’s society. The focus is on the use of cellphones by teens and misuse of it.


It’s when sexually explicit text messages are sent via cellphones. Now you may think your 12 year old boy or girl wouldn’t possibly be exposed to this – BUT YOU ARE MISTAKEN. I first saw this when my son was around 12 yrs old. He and a friend had got home from camp after meeting other 12 year old girls and were laughing over some rather explicit text messages that his friend got from a girl he’d met at camp. Not only was I shocked, but I was enlightened that one should never assume that there kid is safe from what the world has to offer – good or bad. Parents need to be realistic and start thinking like a kid.


Do you know that girls that are rather young – as young as 12 years or less send boys pictures of themselves? Not nude pics but pictures in their bathing suits and in poses used to be seductive. Never assume that your daughter or son isn’t sending or getting these messages. Some kids even post them on Facebook. I’ve been shocked at some of the friend pics on my kids FB pages and I wonder if the parents even check on their kids accounts. I suggest parents talk about these to their kids and let them know that once a picture is taken – it can end up ANYWHERE.


Yep, you know it. If you can harass a person on the phone, you can text them and the harassing comments last for-ever. This is another misuse of cellphones by kids. In cases like this you have to teach your teen that words won’t physically harm them and that there are ways to trace those messages and fight back against this form of harassment.


Parents don’t have to be on the eight ball when it comes to this. Contact your cellphone provider and see if they offer a service that allows you to monitor the text (in and out) to your kid’s phone. As the one who pays the bills parents, you have the right to check up on how your property is being used. It’s time for parents to act like parents and monitor what their kid is doing. You just may be surprised what you find.

Lastly, talk and educate your kid. I do that with my kids. Now that doesn’t mean they don’t make mistakes, it means that I am educating them and guiding them in their growth. I leave the door to communication open, ask my kid the questions instead of demanding that they do what I say only, I expect my teens to take ownership of their actions.

The misuse of cellphones can be a life changing event for teens and has led to depression, possible prison time, and in some cases suicide. Step up parents and get knowledgeable.

To find out more about this event sponsored by the FCC click here.


Kelly Hashway said...

I'm dating myself here, but my parents always insisted I had money to call home when I was in school. It was the emergency phone call money in case I needed a ride or something came up. When cell phones became the big thing, my parents bought me one. I think a lot of parents use cell phones to make sure their kids are never stranded without a way to get help if they need it. It's sad that now those parents who were trying to protect their kids have to worry about things like sexting. Thanks for offering tips on how to monitor what kids are seeing via their phones.

E.J. Wesley said...

Very important post, LM. Working at a middle school, I definitely see/hear about a lot of this stuff going on. The idea of children being constantly connected to the internet, cameras, and phones is still something I see parents struggling with in terms of trying regulate their teen's usage. A few tips I'll add to the great stuff you've already said:

Most cell companies will allow you turn off picture texts for a particular phone, which is something I'd 110% recommend to every parent. The 2nd thing would be to review your child's text messages every month. Most bills allow you to read everything they send/receive.

Facebook/social media:
Make your child share their Facebook login information with you, and check it regularly. Friending them is not enough, because of private messaging, filters, etc. It won't stop them from creating multiple accounts--and it wouldn't hurt to do a search for those from time-to-time--but it will let them know that you are watching and that you care about what they do online.

It may sound a bit invasive on their privacy, but most young people (and way too many adults) these days view cell phones, internet, etc. as rights as opposed to privileges. They can't say and do any little thing they want at school or in front of you (the parent), so they shouldn't assume that they have that right via text or online. I think adults (all of us, parents or no) need to do more to model and teach accountability when it comes to maintaining a responsible electronic/mobile identity. Predators, bullying, and the like really make it something we have to be more concerned about.

Oops, I think I just sprained my ankle jumping off of that soapbox! :)

beth said...

This is a good post and I think a lot of what is said is true, but I think before kids were texting each other these things, they were just saying, or calling with it. I don't really think adolescent behavior has changed just the medium of which it's delivered. Although, I know texting and social media offer away for the messages to be almost non-stop.

Catherine Stine said...

Good post. Before kids were able to sext, they simply drew dirty pictures and passed them around in class. (I got caught once passing notes to a friend in 5th grade, and boy, was I embarrassed!) It's a more dangerous world now, where every text message could possibly be exposed for scrutiny. The best policy is to try to guide your kids into the most healthy creative outlets, and to encourage them to have deep friendships that are fulfilling, and to talk to them as much as you can.

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

Great tips. I agree that parents should know what their kids are doing. Someday the kids may thank them.

LM Preston said...

I will admit that the cellphone and social media sites are just tools to exploit bad behaviours. The problem is these tools amplify a bad behavior which can leave permanent scars. Thanks for jumping in here, you all are giving me good feedback to share at the conference on Tues.

Horserider said...

Parents really need to just start talking to their kids. So many parents are so busy these days that a lot of them don't spend time with their kids like they should and then they wonder where they went wrong when things like sexting happen. Kids need to feel like they actually have someone to go to when there's a problem. And that person usually isn't their parent, but it should be.

I'm not saying that if your kid gets caught sexting you're a bad parent or that you can't keep an eye on your kid's online life, I just think we need to take a look at the real root of the problem rather than in the ways it manifests itself in technology.

Kids are growing up faster and faster these days. My seventh grade cousin knows almost as much about sex as I do. I met a middle school girl who told me that there were rumors going around her school that she's pregnant. It's amazing how fast things change.

And always remember, just because your kid is a teenager does NOT mean they're doing those things.

Anonymous said...

After reading this I thought I'd share... A friend's 17 yr old son was sending pics of himself to his girlfriend, and she sent some of her to him. When the parents of the girl found out, they pressed charges against him. The case was, the boy asked the under-aged girl (who was also 17) to send pics of herself. It was mutual but since he asked, the parents had a case against him. He faced being charged with a sex offense, which would put him on the sex offender list!!! I know this is crazy, but it was really happening.

The parents had to hire a lawyer and fight the charges in court.

The good news, the charges were reduced and he is on something like probation. IF he sends any sexting or explicit messages, he could be charged with the higher offense. And if he receives any, he must report them immediately to avoid being charged again.

This boy lucked out, but only after several very scary months and about $10,000 in lawyer's and court fees!

The laws are not well established for kids sending kids pics of themselves. Its a dangerous thing to do! In this case, it was considered child pornography because of her age, even though she took them and sent them willingly.

Warn your children - its not cute or funny, but can really damage a person's life.

LM Preston said...

Oh thank you for telling me about this very real threat. I'll make sure to mention it at the panel today.