Three Things to Teach your Child About Safe Sexting

Sexting

If we choose to face reality, we know that teen sexting has become a normative part of adolescent culture.  Of course, not all adolescents are doing it, but many are sexting.  What we learned from the years of the “JUST SAY NO” campaign and more years of research is that preaching abstinence just doesn’t work.  If we want to protect children from the darker side of sexting, we need to educate and inform them about the practice, so they can make their own, hopefully well thought out, decisions.

What are the tenants of Safe Sexting?

  1. You are responsible for your own safety.
  2. Know the risk
  3. Know how to protect yourself

You are responsible for your own safety

 The digital world can be a risky place.  Aware parents will have talked to their children about online sexual activity and perhaps filtered or monitored devices such as phones or laptops.  However, no filter or monitor can truly protect a child from the risks of online sexual behavior.  Ultimately, your child is responsible for his or her own behavior online.  What they do or do not post, text, snap, etc.  is their own responsibility.

To help your child be more proactive about their online safety, here are some things to think about and talk to them about.  Before you send a picture or post, stop and count to ten.  Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Do I really want to send this picture or video?
  2. Do I feel pressured to take or send this image?
  3. Do I trust that the person I send this to will never share this image without my consent?

It is very true that many children, particularly girls, feel a great deal of pressure to participate in taking and sending sexual images.  There are also online predators who will groom, intimidate or threaten a young person to convince them to take pictures.  In these instances, there is no consent.  Coercion is never consent.

If your child chooses to engage in consensual sexting with a peer, they should truly want to take the image without feeling any pressure to do so.  They should also trust that, no matter what, the person they send the image to will not share the image.   If all of these parameters are met, then the sexting is consensual and if your child takes and sends an image, they are assuming responsibility for their actions.

Know the Risk

 Even in the case of consensual teen sexting there is a lot of risk.  In order to engage in safe sexting, the person doing it (adult or minor) needs to know the risk involved with the behavior.  So what are the risks?

Sexting as a minor may be illegal.  Every state has a different law regarding minors producing and sending illicit or sexual images.  The punishments for the behavior also vary from state to state.  In some cases, a child can be the producer and distributor of child pornography as well as the victim of the same crime.  Some states have decriminalized consensual sexting between two minors.  Know the law in your state and share that with your child.

Another risk is that someone you do not want to see your image may see your sexual image.  This is non-consensual sexting.  You may have sent a sexual image to someone with whom you are in a relationship.  This may have been consensual at the time.  Then, something goes wrong in the relationship, and you are not together.  Revenge porn is a real thing.  If the person you were dating changes their feelings or gets mad, they have an image that they can send out to every other person in high school or post to a revenge pornography site.  Anytime you send a sexual image there is always a risk that someone you do not want to see it will see it.  It is also possible that many, many people may see the image.

Protect Yourself

 In this arena of uncertainty, where something can go viral in the blink of an eye, how do you protect yourself?  Here are some guidelines to help your child protect themselves.

If you choose to consensually share a sexual image with someone, only send an image or video that you would not mind someone else seeing.  Are you ok with just anyone seeing you nude or engaged in a sexual act with someone?  If you are not okay with that, and choose to send an image, perhaps send a picture in a bathing suit or underwear.  I don’t want this to be read as advocating for teens sexting but for those who choose to do so, to send an image that the sender would not mind any and all to see.

If you choose to send a sexual image, only send an image to someone you trust.  Sending an image is a great act of trust as you lose control of that image the moment it is sent.  You need to truly and completely trust that the person you send it to won’t someday get mad at you and send it to all of his or her friends or post it online without your consent.

How do you know who you can trust?  To answer this, I will borrow from Brene Brown’s concept Anatomy of Trust otherwise known as BRAVING.  This can be applied to you or another.

  • Boundaries – The person you may send this image to always respects your  boundaries
  • Accountability – The person you may send this image to always owns their mistakes,  apologizes and makes amends
  • Integrity –   The person you may send this image to always acts with integrity, does what is right instead of what is easy or fun.
  • Reliability –  The person you may send this image to is reliable.  They always mean what they say and say what they do.
  • Vault-  The person you may send an image to NEVER shares things that are not his or hers to share.  They don’t gossip and they keep confidences.
  • Non-Judgment- The person you may send this to will not judge you.
  • Generosity-   The person you may send this image to will assume the most generous thoughts about your actions and intentions.

If the person you are thinking about sending a sexual image to does not meet the core pieces of the anatomy of trust, you may wish to rethink sending him or her a sexual image.

To conclude, I would like to reiterate that my intention here is not to encourage or glamorize the practice of sexting among adolescents.  My point is to be realistic.  If teens are going to engage in sexting we need to empower them with accurate information and guidance about how to do so safely.  Talking to your child about Safe Sexting arms them with information to make their own informed decisions.

For more information on how to talk to your child please see my book, The New Age of Sex Education: how to talk to your teen about cybersex and pornography in the digital age.

For more information on Dr. Weeks, Please see our website www.sexualaddictiontreatmentservices.com

Girls and Sexting

Friends Using Smart Phone While Leaning Against Wall

I am writing to you today from the annual conference of ATSA, the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers.  I come every year to ensure I stay on top of all the latest research and to make sure that the methods we use to treat people at SATS are state of the art and evidence based.

Each year, in addition to traditional talks, there are poster presentations.  Today, Marion Desfachelles, a Ph.D. student at the University of Montreal, presented a poster on her research on girls and sexting.

Because this research is from Canada, I will take a moment to explain how Canadians handle teenage sexting.  Sexting is divided into two categories, Primary and Secondary.  Primary sexting is defined as sending or receiving sexually explicit content in a private context.  Secondary sexting is defined as distributing the image or video to the public.

The Supreme Court of Canada ruled this year that to establish an intimate photo exception to the juvenile pornography laws.  This exception allows “two youths, who engage in lawful sexual activity, to consensually record their own lawful sexual activity as long as that recording is made or possessed for their personal use.”

As most of the research on secondary sexting is focused on boys, Ms. Desfachelles wanted to look at how girls engage in primary or secondary sexting.  To do this, she looked at the arrest records of 27 girls who were arrested or suspected to be involved in cases of juvenile pornography.

What did the study find?  Girls are sometimes the primary sexter and the secondary victim, meaning a girl may have taken an image for a partner but it was then distributed outside the context of that relationship.  Girls also distributed sexual imagery to others.  An interesting finding was that the girls did acknowledge that sending these images would be hurtful to the victims, but the girls thought that the victims of the secondary sexting were responsible for the situation.

The study found three main motivations for secondary sexting.  The most common motivation was that of revenge or hurt.  The other two motivations seen were goodwill and fun, meaning peer pressure.  Boys continue to be most frequently the originators of the secondary sexting, but girls sometimes start the process and definitely participate in the secondary sexting.

We know that there is significant emotional damage to the victim of secondary sexting.  Prevention campaigns often focus on not sexting at all.  The author suggests that, as sexting is becoming a more normative behavior for teens, the prevention efforts be moved to focus on prevention of secondary sexting.

Help teens understand that they should keep something that was sent in the context of a relationship private.  Teach teens about consent and that consent also applies to distribution of images sent with the expectation of privacy.

As always, parents should be talking to their children about sexting.  We also need to expand our discussions about how, if their child does engage in sexting, they can do so in a safe and respectful manner and to understand the risks involved in sending an explicit image to another person.

For more information on the effect of sexting on children, please see my book, The New Age of Sex Education:  How to talk to your teen about cybersex and pornography in the digital age.

Sex Ed by Porn: Free Webinar Friday

iStock_000044887094_Full.jpgJoin me this Friday for a free one hour webinar hosted by The Center for Healthy Sex at 12:00 pm (PT) to talk about the effects of cybersex and sexting on children.

Click here to see the event details  http://centerforhealthysex.com/sex-therapy-resources/upcoming-events/

 

You can also check out my book on the topic:  The New Age of Sex Education:  How to Talk to your Teen about Cybersex and Pornography in the Digital Age.  

Sexting in 8th Grade – Part II

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Last week I shared the story of my long time friend’s experience with her child early in the school year.  Her 5th grader watching her 8th grade friend sexting on the bus.  As you might imagine, the story does not end there.  After the initial conversation with her daughter (which went amazingly well because she talks to her children about the hard stuff), she is left with the question of “now what?”

The “now what” question is not about what to do with her own child, she will keep up the open communication with her.  The question arises as to what to do with the information she now possesses, that this young girl is sending pictures of herself to boys in the school.

As we continued our conversation, we worked through the options.  My friend’s first option is to do nothing and not tell anyone about the behavior.  This option did not sit well with my friend.  She felt that if this was her child who was sexting on the bus, she would want to know so she can address the behavior.

The next option was to tell an administrator at the school that a child was sexting on the bus.  This option also did not sit too well with my friend.  In telling someone at the school, the girl would possibly end up getting in a lot of trouble.  It also opened up the opportunity for a large scale “sexting scandal” like those we read about in the papers.  My friend is not one to try to make chaos and drama so a large scale investigation and possible scandal were out.

Option number three was to talk to the parents of the girl.  This sounds like a straight forward option, but in talking about this option, we realized it is not as straight forward as it seems.  First, would the parents of the girl be able to hear the news of their child’s behavior without being defensive, in denial or reactionary?  Though my friend knows the parents from the community, she does not know them well enough to gauge what type of reaction they will have to the news.

The other concern in telling the parents, is that they will, inevitably, (we hope) address the sexting behavior with their child.  It will be quite obvious to the girl where the news came from.  My friend feared for the ramifications this might have on her daughter.  Would she be labeled a “snitch?”  Would she be ostracized by this friend or by other kids at the school?  Would there be a social consequence for her daughter for telling her parents what was happening on the bus?  Though as adults, we might not think these are big concerns, they are huge concerns to a child in school, where the social environment is hugely important.  Add to this the fact that my friend’s daughter did not want her to tell the other girl’s parents out of her fear for any of the aforementioned possible consequences.

In the end, my friend decided that she is both a parent and a responsible person.  She would want someone to tell her if her child was sexting.  She also has a real fear for what may happen to the young girl who is sexting and does not want her to experience any long term consequences from her behavior.  She continues to talk to her own child about the entire experience.  Luckily, her daughter is a pretty amazing kid (like her mom) and has already decided to distance herself from the friend because the friend’s behavior makes her uncomfortable.

I share these stories for several reasons.  First, real life accounts are often more powerful than book learning.  Second, I want you all to know that even if you talk to your kids proactively about cybersex, it doesn’t end there.  There will be tricky landscapes to navigate throughout their school career.

Dr. Jennifer Weeks is the founder of Sexual Addiction Treatment Services and the author of The New Age of Sex Education: How to Talk to Your Teen about Cybersex and and Pornography in the Digital Age.

Sexting in 8th Grade

Friends Using Smart Phone While Leaning Against Wall

I have a dear friend who I have known since grade school. She is the mother of three children, the oldest being in 8th grade. Given my profession and her being an all-around fabulous mother, we tend to have conversations about sexuality, pornography, sexting and children.

I recently reposted my blog on Child Pornography Prevention on social media. This was inspired by a local priest being arrested for possession of child pornography. From this, my friend and I had a great conversation I thought I would share (with her permission).

My prevention work focuses more on parents than it does on children. I want parents to start talking to their kids about sex and pornography. Parents tend to not do this. There are many reasons, mostly the fact that it is awkward and embarrassing.

Talking to my oldest daughter about these things is ….hard. For both of us. She is 11. She uses the internet.”

My friend also employs all the tools she can to ensure her children are not unwittingly exposed to pornography online. She and her husband use parental controls but we all know sometimes this is not enough.

We have parental controls. They don’t always work as they should. She goes to kids houses where there are computers, these kids have smart phones etc., not locked down AT ALL….because they have ” good kids ” who wouldn’t bother to look at ” that stuff”

As my friend points out, as a parent, you do what you can in your own home to avoid unwanted exposure to this content, but you don’t know what the parents of your child’s friends are doing. Much of the exposure to pornography is via peers. Just because your house is cybersafe, doesn’t mean that someone else’s house is.

So my friend and her husband have taken the leap and had the uncomfortable conversations with their daughter about sex, cybersex, pornography, sexting and sexualization of others.

We decided we had to go there. The conversation continues because we have opened a door and she now knows we are capable of having these conversations. Is it fun? No. Do I look forward to them? Sure…like I do a root canal….but they are imperative. As are these conversations.”

So what happens when you talk to your child often about sexuality? It becomes more comfortable. They learn that they can safely bring their concerns to you because the topic isn’t taboo and you won’t react badly. They trust you with this information.

The end result of this trust was on display for my friend and her daughter just a few weeks into the school year. My friend’s daughter is in 8th grade.

She has already talked to me THIS school year about her 8th grade friend on the bus sexting.”

Her daughter came to her this year with this concern because they had already talked about these issues. It was a topic that, though still uncomfortable for both of them, was an approachable topic. Her daughter has the knowledge to arm herself in the digital age and to make better choices for herself as she interacts online with her peers.

Education about sexuality and cybersex is imperative in todays’ world. In my friend’s words;

I used to think I was a good enough parent to protect her. I decided to educate her on how to protect herself as well. The education is never ending”

My dear friend ended our conversation with this quote…which is dear to my heart.

“Denial is a powerful bitch.”

I couldn’t agree with her more. Many parents don’t think that their child would sext. They don’t think that their child would look at pornography. I implore you to not be in denial. Sexting on the bus in 8th grade is a reality. If your child is sexting or looking at online pornography, it is not a reflection of your parenting skills. It is a reflection of the age we live in.

Talk to you children, please.

Dr. Weeks is the Author of The New Age of Sex Education:  How to talk to your teen about cybersex and pornography in the digital age.   

Parents are Disconnected from Generation App

Father And Son Using Laptop At Home

Father And Son Using Laptop At Home

The digital world is ever changing and parents frequently have a hard time keeping up with what their children are doing online. Many parents are trying hard to lay down rules and boundaries regarding device use and cybersafety for their children. While these boundaries are wonderful and necessary things when parenting in the digital world, a new study released by the National Cyber Security Alliance reveals that there is a very large “digital disconnect” between parents and their teens regarding teens’ online behavior, their online experiences and how they resolve online issues.

First, an update on how teens are using tech today (as of June 2016 when the study ended). Most teens are accessing digital content on their smartphones (86%). In second place are desktop computers (63%). Teens are spending a lot of time plugged in. The study found that for teens aged 13 to 17, they (62%) spend at least five hours a day plugged in.

Where are they going? Youtube is the place to be, with 91% of teens using Youtube consistently. As for social media apps, Snapchat is the current most popular app with (66%) of teens using this app and a close second is Instagram with 65% of teens using this social media app. Facebook is losing its prominence though 61% of teens surveyed are still using the social media site.

One of the most interesting findings of the survey is that parents think they are creating and enforcing rules around technology usage and cybersafety with their children. However, when their children are asked about these issues (away from mom and dad) there turns out to be a huge disconnect about the rules. For example, 67% of parents say that their child knows that they are to come to them when they experience an online incident that makes them uncomfortable or scared. However, only 32% of teens thought that this was a rule that existed in their family. Teens were much more likely to go to a peer to address the issue than they were their parents.

The study looked at 12 potential tech rules in a family. The difference between the percentage of parents who said a rule exists and their children who agreed was huge. For example, 54% of parents said that their child had to ask permission before downloading a new app or game and only 16% of their teens thought this rule existed. 50% of parents said that their child was required to share their passwords with them while only 16% of their teens reported this rule. Additionally, only 9% of parents said that their household had NO rules about tech while 28% of the teens thought that they had no rules.

These differences show that parents and their teens are not on the same page when it comes to tech use in the household. The good news is that teens still think that their parents are the most important source for online safety and security information.

These differences clearly highlight that though parents think that they may be doing a good job of communicating about tech to their children, the message is getting lost somewhere in translation. Parents need to take an approach to technology that makes it a common part of the household dialogue and conversation with their children. Though you can never make a teen talk to you, demonstrating some tech savvy yourself and talking to your child regularly about their digital world makes the topic commonplace and increases the chances that they will come to you when there is an online issue.

To access the full study, go to file:///C:/Users/Jennifer/Downloads/Keeping_Up_With_Generation_App_Findings_Summary.pdf

Find out how to talk to your teen about cybersex with Dr. Weeks’ new book: The New Age of Sex Education: How to Talk to Your Teen About Cybersex and Pornography in the Digital Age.

Parents Still Don’t Know Enough about Sexting

Friends Using Smart Phone While Leaning Against Wall

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) in the UK recently published the results of a survey about sexting they conducted this year. They were inspired to find out what parents know about sexting by the enormous number of people who visit their sexting advice webpage.

NSPCC conducted both in person surveys and online questionnaires Here is what they found.

Most parents in the UK (73%) think that sexting is always harmful but only 39% thought that their child would engage in the behavior. Many parents did not know that underage sexting (taking or sending naked pictures) was illegal.

The good news is that most parents would seek out help if they found out their child was sexting. The BAD news is that only half of the parents thought they would be able to find the right support.

Parents are STILL not talking to their children about sexting. This survey showed that only 42% of parents had spoken to their child about sexting once. Unfortunately, 19% of parents had no intention of ever talking to their child about the issue. Parents appeared to be most uncomfortable about conversations relating to sexting and the law.

A positive take away from this survey is that despite the 83% of parents who have never received any information about sexting, and  the 84% of parents who never looked for the information, 50% of the parents did actually want more information. Parents are looking for information about healthy relationships, how to start conversations with their child about sexting as well as how young people experience sexting in their peer group.

As someone who works in this field, it is still discouraging that so many parents have not talked to their child about sexting and it is even more discouraging that they don’t have good information at their fingertips. With news articles about sexting scandals and teens popping up in the news on a daily basis, the denial of parents that their own child might engage in this behavior is alarming.

This survey is the exact reason why I wrote my new book, The New Age of Sex Education: How to Talk to Your Teen About Cybersex and Pornography in the Digital Age. Without knowing it (or taking my cues from the headlines) my book addresses the stated learning needs of these parents. It would be helpful to parents and children alike if schools and communities started to educate parents about these issues on a regular basis, providing parents with the resources they both need and desire.

Click here to purchase The New Age of Sex Education: How to Talk to Your Teen about Cybersex and Pornography in the Digital Age.

Parental Denial: Yes, Your Child Has Seen Pornography

cracking up

Absolute Denial: “No not my child! My son doesn’t look at porn online.” “My daughter would never send a naked picture of herself.”

Very recently a young teenage girl was lured into a meeting with a college man on the messaging app Kik and she was killed. This tragic event has spurned a barrage of news articles and blogs about the dangers of the app Kik and what parents need to know. While these blogs and news articles are helpful, they are a little late.

Moment of honesty. Sometimes I get really upset at parents. Truly, I don’t get angry at parents, I get upset at denial. Kik is not new. Other messaging apps like Kik are not new. Those of us who work in the field and deal with cybersex issues have been talking about Kik and other messaging apps for a really long time. If you read a newspaper or see any online news, you know that these types of apps are all over the news. I find it hard to believe that parents don’t know that these things exist. Unfortunately, many parents are stuck in DENIAL.

Denial is a concept with which anyone who works with addiction or knows an addict is familiar. Addiction author Terrance Gorski identifies 12 types of denial (http://www.tgorski.com/clin_mod/dmc/denial_checklist.htm). An addict in denial won’t admit they have a problem, to themselves or others. Denial is not just a problem of addiction. I see Parental Denial frequently in the work that we do with sex addiction and cybersex issues.

So what do I mean by parental denial. Parental denial is a place that many parents, even aware parents, live when they think about their child’s engagement in cybersex or use of online pornography. I have encountered countless smart, aware, on-top-of-things parents, who categorically deny that their child has seen online pornography, sent a sext, received a sext, or engaged in some type of sexual activity on an app. Because of this denial, parents don’t talk to their children about their digital media use.

When their child gets into the therapy room, we find out that, yes, in fact, they have seen pornography online. Sometimes they are looking at it A LOT. Most of the time we find out that they have been sent a sexual message, though they may not have sent one back. They message all the time on a number of apps, so many in fact, that it is hard for someone over about 16 to keep up. These parents think that because they have smart, responsible, and kind children, these children would not engage in anything related to cybersex. Facts are facts. These may be great, wonderful teens but they are still teens. Teens are subject to peer pressure and the desire to fit in. The teenage brain is not yet fully developed, leaving them at the mercy of impulsiveness and often poor decision making skills.

Wouldn’t it be better if we all worked from the assumption that all teens have been or will be exposed to sexual material in the digital world. That way, it should become a PRIORITY to talk to your children about sex, sexuality and cybersex. If you are open with your child and talk about these issues, you are engaging in the best kind of prevention there is. Openness. Honesty. Acknowledging sexuality as a part of humanness that does not need to be shamed and can be discussed openly.

It upsets me to think of how many parents have become aware of their child’s cybersex engagement through law enforcement or school officials, particularly when it is avoidable. . If parents engage in open discussion with their children, the number of children exposed to scandal, legal charges or even physical harm will surely decrease.

To learn more about talking to your child about cybersex, please go to The New Age of Sex Education.

30 Days of Sex Talks

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30 Days of Sex Talks: Empowering your child with knowledge of sexual intimacy is a series of books for parents created by the organization, Educate and Empower Kids (www.educateempowerkids.org). I found these books while researching my book, The New Age of Sex Education, How to Talk to Your Teen about Cybersex and Pornography. The first thing I did upon reading the books was to email a client and tell her she must buy the books. We had just had a session discussing her own discomfort talking to her son about sexuality.

There are three books in this series. The first book is for ages 3 to 7. The second book is for ages 8 to 11 and the third is for children 12 and over. The books are written in a very user friendly fashion. Each has thirty topics ranging from basics in anatomy to discussions about affection and intimacy. Each talk has a suggestion for how to start a conversation with your child as well as other questions to consider. They also offer some sample dialogues. These are not just sex education books. They focus on all aspects of sexuality and are simply the best books I have seen on this topic for parents.

Ages 3 to 17

Topics for small children do tend to focus on anatomy and body integrity. I love that they bring up forced affection. Forced affection occurs when a child is pressured into some type of physical affection that makes them uncomfortable or that in which they do not wish to engage. For example, “give your Aunt Alice a hug.” Other great topics include teaching about public versus private, respect, bad touch, how to say “No” and love and affection.

Particular to my work, the books also introduce pornography and the internet. Some people may feel that this age group, 3 – 7, is too young to be introduced to the concept of pornography. I believe that we cannot start to talk about these things early enough in an age appropriate manner. When discussing pornography, the authors do so without judgment. It is factual. They also introduce the idea that no one should make them look at pictures that make them uncomfortable (i.e. grooming) and that there are some types of pictures that are not ok to take. These are great topics that can have protective value should the child ever be exposed to an adult trying to sexually groom them.

Ages 8 to 11

The topics change and grow in complexity in the next age range. The topics also build upon those from the earlier age group. Anatomy is reintroduced here, as are the topics of public versus private and relationships. This age group book introduces sexual identity, body image, self esteem and continues to instill protective practices against child sexual abuse.

The topic of masturbation is raised in the book for this age group and is done so without shame or judgment. They do bring up the possibility of addiction but do not infer that if a child masturbates, he or she will become an addict. The same possibility is addressed for pornography, again without inference that if a child sees pornography they are bad or will become an addict.

This age group book also introduces sexting and social media. This is perfectly age appropriate. Research shows us that young children are being exposed to sexting and sexual interaction in apps and webcam based sites.

Ages 12 +

This is the meatiest of the three books, as the child entering his or her teens faces an increasingly complex social world and is, presumably, entering the realm of relationships. This book really does a fabulous job of being real about the sexual issues that a teen faces. Topics include: emotional intimacy, positive aspects of sex, relationship boundaries, consent, shame and guilt, healthy relationships, hook ups and STI’s among other things.

The discussion of pornography for this age group is great. Discussions with the teen about pornography include the potential damage to relationships, objectification and the potential for erectile dysfunction. There is not an assumption that any pornography use is addictive, but that extended use can affect brain chemistry and may lead to addiction. This is what the science tells us. The same concept is applied to masturbation. There are no assumptions made about masturbation, there is a discussion of what happens if it becomes a habit.

The discussion about sexting gets more in depth. The possible legal ramifications are discussed as well as possible social consequences. They are very clear that the social ramifications can include cyberbullying and shaming.

This series of books is smart, accurate and straight forward. There are a lot of things that are not in this book. There is no denial. There is no inferred shame or judgment. There is no influence of any religious belief on the topics.

It is the combination of both what is and what is not in this book series that makes it the best book on the topic I have ever read. Every parent should own them.

For more blogs on similar topics see our site The New Age of Sex Education

Tech Updates for Aware Parents

Father And Son Using Laptop At Dining Table

Side view of father and son using laptop at dining table

In the ever changing world of mobile technology, it is hard to keep up with new apps and services. Fads come quickly and leave just as quickly. During the first half of this month, a few tech changes have occurred that a tech savvy parent might want to be aware of. This post is a short recap of new things and changes. If you are interested, please dig further into the apps and/or new functions.

Peach

At the beginning of the month, the founder of the video messaging app, Vine, launched a new app named Peach. This new app is more like a Twitter or Facebook than a traditional messaging app. Messages that are written are posted to a home page in real time. The app allows for video, gifs and traditional images. There is also a draw function in case you want to post a doodle. The app is officially only available for iOS systems.

Three days after it’s release, Peach was in the top ten for social networking apps in the iPhone app store. Whether it is the desire for something new or the media hype, it is clear that people are checking out the app. Only time will tell if it continues to be popular or quickly loses ground.  (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/peach-a-space-for-friends/id1067891186?mt=8)

Upshot

Upshot is being touted by technology bloggers as the Snapchat for events. This new app creates a cache of pictures from an event or location of an event such as a party. If the user chooses the autoshare option, any picture they take on their phone or via Snapchat will be posted on the Upshot private event stream that a user creates. The app syncs with Facebook events to make ensure a larger inclusion of photographs. Like Snapchat, the images do have a self destruct period. The stream will only be available for seven days after it has been created. The app is available for iPhones now with an Android launch in February.

The idea of Upshot sounds great. Create a private event for something like a baby shower or family reunion and everyone who is at the event (and who uses the app) can then see all of the photos of the event. I believe this is akin to the intent of the app as it is created by the same people who created the family Photosharing app called Togethera.

Upshot is given a 12+ rating for infrequent alcohol, tobacco or drug use. As with any social app, it can be used for great good. It seems like a great idea for parties and events. On the flip side, I would be concerned about the content of the Upshot albums when they are used at teen parties. We all know that some teens have used SnapChat to send sexual content. What happens if these types of images are uploaded onto Upshot from an event? Is the entire group on the private event then possibly in trouble for possessing sexual images of children? (http://www.upshotapp.co/)

Skype

You may be wondering why Skype is on this list as it just celebrated its 10th anniversary. On January 12, 2016, Skype just announced that it will be offering free group video calling that will be available on nearly all mobile devices. According to the company, nearly 750 million people around the world use Skype.

Though Skype is most frequently used in business and for legitimate reasons, there are some individuals who do use Skype to engage in sexual chat online. Be aware, that this group chat can now occur.

As always, this blog post is not meant to be an in-depth look into any of these apps or advancements. For more information, please check out the company sites to determine if you think the app is appropriate for your child to use.

Yik Yak

Yik Yak is an anonymous social network app that is popular among college students. I have written about the app previously on other blog posts. The company announced yesterday that the app is now going to also be available in a web version. The web version is fundamentally the same as the app but allows a user to type out their messages on a keyboard for ease of use or for when phone battery is dying.

When Yik Yak was originally created, the app was a problem with high school students but the founders, in a responsible move, geofenced the app around high schools and middle schools so it cannot be used in those locations.

For more posts like this, please see www.thenewageofsexeducation.com.