by Carol Politi

Every day we are hearing more and more about how kids are getting into trouble with the pictures they are sending to their friends on their cell phones.  “Sexting”, if you are not familiar with the term, is the trend where teens are “using their cell phones and computers to send risqué photos of themselves.”

This is landing more kids than you might think in extremely embarrassing situations and even in legal trouble.  And sexting is impacting kids emotionally during middle school and high school – a time when many view their reputation with their peers to be the most important thing in the world to them.

What can parents do to guide their kids toward responsible use of picture technology – both on the phone and on-line?  Some ideas:

1.  Set up a contract!  If you are getting your child a new kajeet phone, use this as an opportunity to walk through the account controls and talk about appropriate use of the phone.  Discuss whether they are ready to send pictures at the press of a button, or whether this function should be turned off for the phone.  You might consider getting them to draft an agreement in writing discussing what pictures are appropriate to send and what pictures are not appropriate.

2.  Monitor your kids account.  Even kids with what we might think is extremely good judgment sometimes make mistakes.  You can login into kajeet.com to view the phone account activity which shows every number to which picture messages are sent.

3.  Consider viewing the pictures your kids are sending.  There is nothing better than real time guidance about what’s appropriate.  If you see your kid sent one or more picture messages, perhaps you can talk to them about sexting and ask them to show you the phone and the pictures that were sent.

4.  Have them do some reading on the topic.  Real kids are getting hurt every day by sending the wrong pictures – often to friends or boyfriends who think it is funny to share them around.   A quick google search on the topic will show up many, many articles that might be the reading required to drive this point home.

We find that every family has a different approach toward dealing with issues like this.  Some families prefer phones without cameras (we offer that option!).  Others turn off picture messaging and just allow their kids to take pictures that remain on the phone (to do this just go into the kajeet Feature Manager and turn Picture Messaging “Off”).    Still others prefer to make these services available, and to monitor and guide their use.  At kajeet we want to give you the tools required to make sure you can manage cell phone service in the manner that works for your family.

Have you had a discussion with your child on sexting?  How are you managing the use of pictures in your family?

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