Talking with teenagers about their personal lives and sexual issues can be very difficult, so broaching the subject without lecturing your child and by developing an open line of communication will help.
Try asking for their advice – you could say that you have a friend who thinks her daughter is being asked for inappropriate photos and wants to know what to do; or that you have read an article about sexting and want to know more.
Simply approaching them at the right moment with your concerns could be enough to get them engaged into meaningful discussion with you. Once you have opened this discussion, keep it going. Everyday chat with your teenage son or daughter should also include internet and phone issues. Keep letting them know you are available and aware of potential problems.
There are many underlying concerns and complex social issues that you could discuss with teenagers – all helping the larger objective. Why not find out what your teenage daughter thinks about the objectification and exploitation of women? Or perhaps discuss how sexting behavior amplifies the age-old double standards of boys being considered virulent and macho for engaging in sexual exploration, while girls are considered loose or cheap.
Ask your teenage son how he feels about standing up against peer pressure when he feels his integrity and morals are being compromised or he feels he is being manipulated. What does your teenage boy think about sexual stereotypes and negative sexual generalizations against women?
Talking in this way about the wider issues involved can broaden their perspective and help them to make the right choices.
Telling them it is just wrong to explore their sexuality and increasing independence will not work. But helping them to understand about the damage one mistake can do, and how it could affect future relationships and career prospects, may make them think twice before getting involved.