Putting a stop to teenage sexting - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Putting a stop to teenage sexting

Teenagers are using their cell phones to send nude photos of themselves … and the results can be deadly. Girls in Florida and Ohio killed themselves after their naked pictures ended up being sent to all their classmates. Our technology expert, Darwyn Metzger, is here with some important advice for parents.

"Three out of four American teens now own a cell phone. And one out of every three of those same teens now send over 100 text messages a day. This non-stop teen texting has led to a darker trend worrying parents coast to coast. It's called sexting," Metzger says.

A sext, if you don't know, is a sexually-charged message sent cell phone to cell phone. It often includes lewd text, naked photos and, thanks to the smart phone, even X-rated video. It's one thing if you're a consenting adult...but another if you're underage.

"The growing problem of sexting is leaving parents and teachers reeling as they try to deal with an issue that can lead to the strangest of consequences. As it turns out, lawmakers aren't sure what to do, either. In fact, several states might have to change their own sex laws because of cases like one in which a girl was prosecuted for sending a naked picture of herself to a boy she was dating. If current law is upheld, she'll be registered as a sex offender for life for distributing child pornography of her own body. That also means that teachers who confiscate phones with sexts might also find themselves in hot water for possessing child porn," explains Metzger.

No matter how you slice it, sexting comes with serious consequences. And the proliferation of cell phone use means that, unless parents step up to watch what their children are doing, it isn't going to get any better anytime soon.

Fortunately, Metzger says there are companies like My Mobile Watchdog and Mobile Media Guard that are stepping up to help Mom and Dad put the brakes on their children's lascivious pastimes.

Once you purchase the app, you activate it on your child's phone and log in online. It formulates a list of your child's contacts and then assigns a label of either "trusted," "unapproved," or "suspicious."

If an unapproved or suspicious call comes in, you are instantly notified with the full content of the message, including pictures. Unalterable reports are generated that can ultimately be used to notify school officials or, if need be, law enforcement.

"Hopefully, you'll never have to bring a report like this to the authorities. But My Mobile Watchdog and Mobile Media Guard really do offer peace of mind in a world that is only getting more complicated and dangerous for the kids growing up in it," says Metzger. "Remember, you are the first and last line of defense when it comes to keeping your child safe in the age of the cell phone. So talk to them about sexting. Open communication up front can save them humiliation and even legal trouble down the line."

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