Parents. You ARE The Sex Ed Teacher.

When was the last time you saw something on your Blackberry of a friend of yours was “sexting” in a photo they’ve sent you? Don’t know what I’m talking about?

Good. I didn’t until hearing the terms passed around lately in the news and around young people.

According to the Urban Dictionary.com (a must for parents/adults alike), sexting is defined as “v: the act of text messaging someone in the hopes of having a sexual encounter with them later; initially casual, transitioning into highly suggestive and even sexually explicit.”

Your teen knows what it means

And yes, if you think your pre-teen or teenager is not up to this term, think again.

I think for all the sexual freedom talk, it’s hard to judge what is the right course of action to take when your pre-teen or teenager is acting out something which should be left in the bedroom. It’s even harder today when our kids are more astute with the latest technology than any of us were 10 or 20 years ago.

From cell phones to text messaging to YouTube and Facebook , kids and teens show an ability to master the latest gizmo available on the market. They take it, use it, and create it to be their own identity; they make their homepages and profiles incredibly savvy even for the novice user.

The danger for young people

The danger is many young people are knowledgeable about sexual terms and how to do them, but not have the knowledge to be responsible to themselves and others.

Meanwhile, parents are left in the dust.

Many adults with kids get their children these devices, or give them unlimited time on the computer unaware of how far down the rabbit hole they can go. Your kids can be in their room or at school for hours, with parents not knowing what is on their cell phone, their personal page, or God knows what else. So how do sexually hip parental units find a balance between allowing your kids freedom to grow?

Simple. Be parental. Mom, Dad…Engage!

Getting to know what your children are doing means you may need to get as technically savvy as your kids. It may be as simple as having a sit down chat with your kids. It may mean you will have to confiscate their cell phones or computer to check out what they have on them.

Be a parent; not a friend

This is the part where you become a parent and not a buddy.

You simply say to them that seeing they are the ones who put a roof over their head, food on the table, and gave you the gift of life you—being the person responsible for how they will turn out in life—have every right to know if what they are doing with their friends and online is okay or not. They may balk but your involvement shows how much you love them as a parent. The alternative is much worse than not engaging in their lives.

Communicate. Educate. Establish ground rules

I’m no Dr. Phil, but I think that giving children some boundaries is not a bad thing at all.

Here are a few more tips for monitored “freedoms”.

  1. Talk to your kids about sexuality. This world is much more sexually charged than the one you may have grown in. Sexual terms are at anybody’s disposal in an instant; radio programs talk about it openly; magazines—male and female—are constantly pushing tips on how to be more “available”. Parents need to head them off at the pass.
  2. Parents, YOU are the sex ed teachers! Teachers need to learn the material out there and all the technology available to kids, engaging in their life. Find out what is out there and what they are doing so you can be a few steps ahead of your teen.
  3. Teens need rules. In fact, if most teens were honest, they want rules so they know where they stand and know what is expected of them. If you just hand them a phone or an account without any supervision they can walk all over you as parents and go as far as they want without any restraint or idea of how much this can hurt them. This is wrong. If you put a curfew on how late your teens can stay out or how late they can stay up then it’s time to put a limit on how long to let them on the computer or on their cell phones.
  4. Before buying a cell phone, find out what parental tools are available to block or place limits on them. If its an on line account, than why not have a primary account, in which a parental block can be put on a child’s account. Most servers like Yahoo or MSN will have this function available.

If communicating about sexuality on a regular basis is not enough, or if putting every safe guard on such 21st century technology is not enough, then you may have to do something “so like last century”.

Don’t give them anything.

Their world won’t crumble if they don’t have these technological devices with them twenty-four hours a day,except for an emergency of some sort where you can hand them your phone. They may be better off not having those tools at all.

This may seem like too much censoring and restricting freedoms. But until parents feel comfortable their children are safe, responsible, and knowledgeable about sexuality and relationships (not to mention the technology available to make social life fun) censoring may not always a bad thing.

Poll question: How many electric devices does your teenager(s) own?


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