Parents need to keep up

Leonard Sax: Blame Parents, Not Kids, for Sexting. Barron’s, October 24, 2013.

An article by Dr. Leonard Sax, a family physician who has written a book on children and the media. The article describes a 12 year old girl who made a naked pic of herself and sent it to a teen boyfriend who accidentally left his phone unattended. A friend found the photo and sent it viral. A major mental health crisis followed for the girl.

Sax sees the girl and boy as much less responsible for this event than the parents who were foolish enough to give the boy and girl the phones on which they exchanged the photo of the girl naked. Much truth to this. We know that kids in their early puberty years are neurologically still developing and specifically lacking in good impulse control and solid judgement. So the parents are the ones with the good judgement. They should have known better, argues Dr. Sax.

The problem here is that the parents of such kids are often not that tech-savvy themselves. Further, they feel that they don’t want to be prying too much into their kids lives. So in this instance this combination of factors set the two kids up for much heartbreak.

Based on my own professional experience, I am more and more reaching the conclusion that many high tech devices must be perceived by parents as potentially dangerous and need to be comprehended closely by parents before their children are given easy access to them. This starts with TVs in the bedroom and continues through Facebook accounts and cellphones with access to porn and to YouTube and cameras. If parents find it too tough to spend a lot of time monitoring their kids, then they should think twice about giving the kids the gadgets altogether.