As teen “sexting” grows, parents search for new ways to monitor their kids’ phones.
A University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston survey finds that out of 1000, nearly one third have sent a nude photo by email or text.
If they’re under 18, sexting can have some serious consequences
"It’s certainly something my daughter will have no part in if I have any say to it,” said father Andrew Bonello.
Though his daughter is only eight, sexting is already on Bonello’s radar.
"I don't want her texting people that she shouldn't be. Any sort of inappropriate texts, I will definitely be on top of that,” said Bonello.
Licensed counselor Scott Aber warns that teens often want to impress the person they love through pictures, but those relationships may not last.
"If this relationship blows up, what are you going to do? Those pictures are out there. He or she is out there and they're mad at you and now they want everybody to see them. It's going to be ugly," said Aber.
Not only is it socially awkward, it is illegal.
"No one under 18 can send nude photos of themselves to anyone because that's creating child pornography. If they do, they can be charged with it. Anyone who receives it can be charged with possession of child pornography if that person is under 18," said Mike Piechota, a Mesa County Sheriff’s Office investigator.
If you’re caught, you can be arrested, prosecuted be put in jail, according to Piechota.
At this age, teens cannot expect parents to be their friends.
"You can be friends when you're 25. But as teenagers, you're their parent, and what you need to do is snoop," said Aber.
Your phone's application store can help with monitoring. Free apps like My Mobile Watchdog, Mobile Media Guard or Picschecker send parents email updates with every text, call and web page accessed by their kids.
My Mobile Watchdog lets parents block applications, web pages or certain contacts, according to the developer.
You can also check with your cell provider to see what parental controls are already on the phone itself.
These are all things Bonello will be looking into.
"Anything that's available. I'll be monitoring it online, all her usage, phone numbers she's text messaged or called," said Bonello.
Aber urges parents to remind their kids that what they put out there, stays out there forever. No one wants an employer or their future children coming across your nude picture later in life.
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