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6 Tips for Preventing Your Tween From Sexting

6 Tips for Preventing Your Tween From Sexting

Circle of Moms member Cynthia is worried that her 10-year-old is going to start 'sexting.' Her daughter is entering the tween years, and she's already "flirting a little too much with her boyfriend over her cell phone." Will her daughter will be tempted or pressured into sharing inappropriate images and messages digitally? "There are a lot of stories online [about] kids sending naked pictures ... and even being charged with child pornography! I'm not sure if she has done this, but I am worried she might," says Cynthia.

Phone messaging is now so commonplace among middle-schoolers that Cynthia is one of many Circle of Moms members who are talking about what parents can do to keep it from from becoming a doorway to inappropriate, hurtful, or harmful sexual banter. Here, they share ideas for preventing kids from sexting.

1. Set and Communicate Limits for Phone Usage

Simply handing over a cell phone to a tween without setting rules and explaining the consequences for inappropriate behavior can set parents up for surprising outcomes. Megan J. made sure to talk to her daughter about both the risks of sexting and getting "hot and heavy" with a boy too quickly.  Karen L. suggests spelling out the consequences for doing something that crosses the lines, like "sending or forwarding a naked picture."


Other Circle of Moms members suggest deciding ahead of time who your child can and can't talk to or text on the phone. Tamara W. limits her children to calling and texting only "me, my husband, my parents and the house, maybe their oldest brother since he may need to get them from school if something happens."


2. Talk About Sex and Dating

In addition to talking to your child about what happens in the digital world today and what is appropriate or inappropriate, moms also need to have candid conversations about sex and dating during the tween years. As Circle of Moms member Teresa points out, when a tween abuses his or her cell phone privilege, there are often underlying issues that parents need to address: "the cell phone is 'only the 'messenger' so to speak."

She talks to her own twin daughters "about how it's fine to have friendships with boys, but they need to keep their main focus on their school and gymnastics until they've at least graduated from high school." She has also tried to emphasize to them that when they're ready to date, "they need to be looking for a guy [who] respects them and their interests and goals."

3. Monitor Your Tween's Texts

"Check the phone, privacy be damned," says Melissa M.  She's one of several moms who assert, unapologetically, that privacy is a secondary consideration when you child's "safety [is] at stake."

To those who still hesitate, Shelly H. says, "People, it is no longer 1990 and they are no longer having conversations on the kitchen phone. Prime example is we had a friend walk past his daughter's phone and on a whim took a look at her texts. Let's just say the girl had been doing things that would make porn stars blush and no stone had been left unturned. She had been doing these things while at a friend's house. Welcome to 2011. Better to invade a child's privacy some than to sit by being a passive parent and have them hurt."

Shelly H. says many parents rely on Internet monitoring systems to track their children's cell phone usage. "A lot of our friends use them to keep tabs on their kids. You pay a fee and it will send you every text your kids send and receive."

Alternatively, Karen L. adds, as long as your child is on your cell phone plan, "you can get a copy of the texting record." She suggests monitoring their usage by checking that record periodically, and taking action "if you find something inappropriate."


4. Take the Phone Away If Needed

If setting limits, talking about underlying issues, and monitoring their usage don't work and you find your child texting too much or inappropriately, it's time to take the phone away. As Ivette shares, ""This morning I found text messages in my 10-year-old daughter's phone involving her and a male classmate in her class. It said things like, I love you so much, hottie, babe, sweet cheeks, and kiss[es]. I confronted her about it and all she can say was 'sorry.' I didn't have time to discuss the issues at hand because I had to get her to school, but I confiscated her phone and told her I wasn't done with her."

5. Omit Texting from Your Child's Phone Plan

One way to sidestep the problem of sexting completely is simply to not include texting in your tween's cell phone plan. "I'm a mom of 5, ages 7-17, and I really don't think 10-year-olds are mature enough for cell phones," says Teresa D. "They text things and respond to things that they don't really understand or are ready for. Get your daughter a cell that doesn't have text and very few minutes to be used for emergency or to contact you only. Try to explain to her that she [could] get herself in a situation she's not ready for."

6. Forget the cell phone all together

Several Circle of Moms members question the wisdom of giving your tween a cell phone to begin with. "I'm sorry to say, but I think 10 years old is too young for cell phones, period," says Kelli, adding that kids' access to and abuse of cell phones can make them grow up too fast. (Related Reading: Why I Postponed Buying My Daughter A Cell Phone)

How do you keep your tween from sexting?


Image Source: GoodNCrazy via Flickr/Creative Commons

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.

Join The Conversation
RachelIvieOdom RachelIvieOdom 5 years
Even has a laptop and still plays school and with the guinea pig and rides her 4 Wheeler. She steps out of lime and those are gone. I dare some guy to text her ha you can follow her through the computer if your on a plan. There Is nothing wrong with a 10 year old with a cell phone though, but my daughter doesn't use it anyways, maybe to play games You want to make sure that gps or micro chip involved! WOW
RachelIvieOdom RachelIvieOdom 5 years
I've had deaths in the family and my 10 year old has a cell phone, iPad2, iPhone and other valuables who really cares she plays with Barbies and her little sister while still watching Disney. A boyfriend? UM NO WAY! Yeah when she's 18 maybe geezzz... Those items come with a price and if your making ALL 100's then you've got it!!!! Ha
MikaJones MikaJones 5 years
Um, honestly, how about can someone explain why these kids have cell phones in the firsg place? Cut down on all this madness by waiting until the kids can afford their own cell bill, instead of adding another bill to what parents already pay. That's going out the worl backwords to me.
rhondawalton rhondawalton 5 years
my first question WHY DOES YOUR 10 YEAR OLD HAVE A BOYFRIEND? my 10 year old still plays with barbies and sleeps with a teddy bear!!! 2nd do you moniter her cell phone use? my kids rarely txt and i moniter who tthey txt also computer time is also monitered (usually we choose games to play together)
SherriChampagne SherriChampagne 5 years
Two huge problems here 1. you have allowed her to have a cell phone, which is ridiculous and 2. you have allowed her to have a boyfriend, even more ridiculous.
JulieOliger JulieOliger 5 years
I have 7 wonderful children. We have rules. #1 no cell phone until highschool. #2 Unless you can drive to pick up a date and afford to pay to take her out, there is no boyfriend/girlfriends. When they talk about "going together" I ask where they are going? If they have no phone at that age, then there is no relationships to worry about. Keep them busy with sports and music, etc. and they will not have time for sexting.
AlisonPotter88052 AlisonPotter88052 5 years
No 10 year old should have a "boyfriend". By allowing that to happen, you are opening doors you do not want to open. Stop that "relationship" NOW!!!!
AtishaTaylor AtishaTaylor 5 years
This has to be a joke. A 10-year old with a boyfriend? A 10-year old with a phone? Worried when you're the one who should be setting the rules? Come on!! You're just setting it up for her to fail.
DanielleScarlett DanielleScarlett 5 years
I know how to solve the sexting problem...don't give your child a cell phone, or any.kind if media that would allow that. I can't possibly think of any reason why a 10 year old would need a cell phone.
JenniferTurner37908 JenniferTurner37908 5 years
My daughter is 10 and my husband and I just bought her her first cell phone. This was mainly due to the fact that she is now home alone after school for about 15-20 minutes until my husband gets home from work. When she walks or rides her bike to school she is to call me when she gets there and then turn the phone off until she is leaving school for the day and then she calls me as soon as she gets home. My daughter is not interested in boys other than whipping up on them in Taekwondo, but I can guarantee that she will not be allowed to date until she is 16. Letting your daughter have a boyfriend at 10 years old is just asking for trouble!! My daughter is a pretty responsible she then again, what kid is? That's what being a kid is about, learning and growing and it's our responsibily as parents to make sure they do it right!!
BettyHassinger BettyHassinger 5 years
if you are going to allow your 10 year old to have a cell phone you need to sit down and talk to her about the things she is allowed to do on the phone and the things that she isnt allowed to do on the phone and keep an eye on what your 10 year old is doing. Explain to her that sending inappropriate pictures is bad and that anyone can get them. That the pics can get someone in trouble and possible put in jail. That is you find out that they are doing that they will no longer have a cell phone or they will no longer be allowed to text anyone and only be allowed to call family members and no longer friends.
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