Parents across America are giving their children a new version of “the talk.” It’s just about technology, not sex.
For ages, parents have talked to their children about the birds and the bees. Now, with the rise of technology, families want their children to watch out for the dangers that technology brings, too, which relates to their sex lives, according to CNN’s Kelly Wallace.
Google searches or simple app purchases can expose children to sexually explicit material, which has been found to hurt adolescents in the same way that drugs do, according to Deseret News National’s Sara Israelsen-Hartley. And adolescents communicate in ways that expose them to potential dangers.
"We're giving children access to smartphones, tablets and all sorts of digital devices so young," Diana Graber, who is co-founder of CyberWise.org, a digital information site, told CNN. "There is a good chance they will be exposed to inappropriate content before they're probably ready to have that 'sex talk' that we used to have at 10 and 11. That's why I think having the 'tech talk' first is so important."
Here are five things to know before going into the tech talk with your youngster.
Texting isn’t what it used to be
There’s a lot of texting lingo out there parents might not know about. CNN published a list of 26 acronyms for parents to know if they want to understand what their child is texting about.
Terms like “9” means a parent is watching, while “99” means the parent has left. There’s also “POS,” which means “parent over shoulder” and “CD9,” which means “code 9” or that parents are around. Parents will want to brush up on their texting lingo before giving the talk so they appear more informed.
Watch out for apps
Texting isn’t the only method teens and tweens use to communicate these days. According to Deseret News National’s Chandra Johnson, youngsters also use Snapchat for communication, and sometimes those interactions can be a little scandalous.
Snapchat is particularly important for parents because there’s little-to-no privacy with the app. Pictures disappear after 10 seconds, and they can be ripped from the service’s cloud, which has happened in the past, Johnson wrote. This means your youngster’s photos could find their way online. Knowing if your child uses Snapchat, or other social media apps, could offer you a chance to know what dangers you should bring up with them.
Avoid 'NSFW' stories or other illicit material
Israelsen-Hartley wrote back in January of last year that adolescents who are exposed to pornography struggle in similar ways to drug and alcohol addicts. That’s why there are new organizations, like Fight the New Drug, which aims to rid children of the potentially hazardous online material.
Parents looking to give their children the “tech talk” might want to tell their children that there’s material out there that could hook them and cause addiction. Those materials are sometimes labeled “NSFW” (not safe for work).
There are more devices, too
According to a 2013 report from Common Sense Media, youngsters use more than just smartphones to consume media. They’re using tablets, computers and smartphones.
In fact, the report found that 70 percent of American youngsters age 8 and younger have used mobile devices. Parents should be aware that there is more than just one device that kids can use to access scandalous materials online.
There are ways you can protect your children
Sure, children have access to a bunch of devices. But there are some apps that can help protect your children from some of this negative content. There are apps that allow parents to block specific websites on a phone, and others that allow parents to monitor phone calls, texts and interactions their children have.
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