While this isn’t the way many of us expected the school year to start, for teens, it’s still an exciting time to see friends and socialize with their classmates even if it’s online. For many teens, socializing digitally is a significant part of their experience at school and unfortunately, can put them in vulnerable situations.
As we adapt to changes brought on by COVID-19, teens may be inclined to make up for missed experiences over the summer and school year by making riskier choices while being online, such as taking and sharing inappropriate photos. When you add to the lack of face to face interaction with friends and peer pressure, it can be difficult for them to consider the consequences of their actions. These consequences can have a drastic effect on their lives academically, socially, emotionally, and even get them in trouble with the law. In Arizona, it is illegal for a minor to knowingly use an electronic communication device to possess, view, or transmit explicit photos or videos of a juvenile.
The start of the school year is an excellent time to remind teens about appropriate online behavior, including never asking for or sharing inappropriate photos of themselves or others. In addition to the consequences mentioned above, use the following tips to guide your conversation with your teen about proper online etiquette.
- Information online spreads much faster than in person. Emphasize that once an image is shared, they can no longer control where it goes or who will see it.
- Remind them that anyone who tries to manipulate or pressure them to send an inappropriate photo is not someone they should trust.
- Explain that they do not have the right to share someone else’s photo and that doing so is a violation of trust and puts them at risk.
As uncomfortable as it may be, having frequent conversations about the risks of sending inappropriate photos is essential to ensure a safe and positive online experience. In addition to having these conversations, make sure they know where to find and how to use blocking and reporting functions on social media sites and other websites. For more information about helping kids create good online habits, visit MaricopaCountyAttorney.org/InternetSafety. For help removing an inappropriate image online visit MissingKids.org/GetHelp and submit a report at CyberTipline.org