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Parents, warn your kids about sexting

Parents, warn your kids about sexting

Six years ago when she was short of cash, posing for a porn website seemed like a great idea to Katrina Dunlop. But now she is a My Kitchen Rules NZ contestant and regrets it. “Those old porn pictures are an embarrassment for her and TVNZ,” says John Cowan from The Parenting Place. “She says she would not do it again and describes the whole incident as a ‘life lesson’. My hope is that a lot of young people will learn from her lesson as well.”

The reputation risk comes not just from posing for porn sites. ‘Sexting’ – sending naked or intimate images of oneself from a phone – has become very common amongst young people. “Unfortunately it has become almost normal that at the stage in a relationship when their hands are all over each over, couples are sexting. Undoubtedly the image is being sent with the intention that it will always be private, only to be viewed by one trusted person. But what happens when that relationship ends? Teenage relationships last about as long as a head cold and, when it is over, what does someone do with those naked images of a person they no longer care about? An MTV survey of young men said that 20% of them forwarded sexts on to other people.”

The Parenting Place urges parents to speak to their kids about the topic of ‘managing’ their long term reputation.

“Somehow, millions of pictures and videos find their way onto the internet. Much of it is DIY amateur porn, or shots that were once very private and are now very public. The people posing are real people and most of them are, probably, remarkably normal young people suffering from a lapse of judgement. It could be flattering to think someone will admire your body but will it still seem like a good idea in five years time when those pictures are still out there?”

“I feel very sorry for people on porn sites. When you are in a future relationship and have kids, when you have a career, when you are becoming famous, those photos are still out on the internet, just waiting to resurface and wreck your life. It must be endlessly worrying.”
Even President Obama warns young people, “Don’t post stupid stuff online if you want to be President some day.”

“It might be an embarrassing conversation to have with your young person, but not nearly as embarrassing as having their reputation ruined. Stress to them that the moment they hit ‘send’, they have lost control of that image forever,” says Cowan.


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