As every parent of a teen with a mobile phone, sexting is a problem.
Not just a problem of racy photos and racy messages getting into the wrong hands, or the recipient being the one to pass the sext around, but a problem with the law. In many cases, a sext pic of a scantily clad underage girl sent to a teen boy, has landed that teen boy in hot water – sometimes earning him the charge of sex-offender.
America, it seems is getting on the ‘sexting ban’-wagon (sorry for the pun, there).
Back in July, a Rhode Island judge decreed sexting for teens was against the law, and those teen who received a sext of an underage teen girl now face the chance of being charged with child-pornography, not something a parent wants to see happen to their kid.
Now West Palm Beach, in Florida, has joined in. A first time offense comes with a $60 fine. However, second or third time offenders may be slapped with a misdemeanor charge, or even a felony. However, this is in place to try and discourage sexting, and to try and protect teens from being branded a sex-offender.
But how viable are laws like these? I can see them being somewhat of a deterrent to some teens, but others will see the ban as a shining beacon to go and send sexts, even if they weren’t thinking of it before.
Many teens are up in arms, saying their rights are being violated, but it’s not as if they have to have their phones checked hourly by the police, and honestly, it is going to be a hard thing to enforce.
So why the anti sexting laws that are popping up? It is a way to bring to light the major issues and dangers of sexting – not just dangers of a girl getting herself in over her head in a situation with a boy – as in a boy thinking she wants to go way further than she actually does because of the sext she sent, but the dangers of the charges that can and have come with being caught with sext pics. So many teen boys, especially those who are 18, have been branded a sex-offender, because in the eyes of the law they were caught with child pornography in their possession. These boys, these young men, now have to register the same way rapists and child molesters have to, and in they eyes of the law they are on par with these monsters.
Such a charge will affect their lives for a long time to come. Affect the jobs they will be able to get, relationships they start, loans, credit, the way people look at them, where they can live (not too close to a school, like the other sex offenders out there). It’s a hell of a payment for simply receiving a sext pic of a teenage girl.
If anti-sext laws can help bring the issue into the minds of teens, then I am all for it. But honestly, there is only so much the law can do, without going completely Big Brother on the nation’s youth.
Far better is an app we parents put on our teens’ phones. Smart Protect enables us to monitor our teens actions. We can check photos, texts, calls, Internet activity. And we can control it, and even set the phone to do nothing more than answer calls if we wish.
I’ve heard such things called invasive, and heard other parents remark this kind of app makes the parent utilizing it no better than the police, or the dreaded Big Brother scenario.
I disagree. An app like this is designed to be tailored by the parent for the situation at hand. Of course, if you heavily monitor and control your teen’s phone usage without cause or reason, then it’s wrong, but used as a way to periodically check up on your kid (as you would if they were having a party, or as you do when they’re going about their after school life, occasionally making sure they’re where they say the’d be, and behaving), and as a way to make sure things are okay, and to look for early signs of trouble, then it’s not only normal, but it’s good parenting. Actually, it’s smart parenting.
At the first sign or signs of trouble – shifts in texting, or a lot of deletions going on, then you have the ability to act. Of course, talk to your kid, that’s a no brainer, but we’re talking creatures who are morphing from child into adult, and it isn’t a pretty time of life. Talk to them, find out what’s going on, and if you need to, step up the monitoring.
More often than not, you won’t even need to go to that level. And even more rarely, will you have to take control of the phone remotely. But if you have to do that, you’ll be completely grateful for the control the app gives you. And the protection that control gives your kid.
The laws are there to help parents. And parents need to help themselves.
Personally, I’d rather be accused of being a dictator by my hormonally out of control teen than have to watch him live with the burden of sex-offender. And if apps like Smart Protect help me protect my child, then I’ll take the rants and the sulky looks with open arms.