NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Is sexting the new norm for teenagers? Why do they do it and how should parents deal with it?
One study finds 30 percent of teenagers admit they texted a sexual image of themselves; 45 percent say they’ve received one.READ MORE: Gabby Petito Search: Authorities Combing Wyoming Wilderness For Missing Woman, Fiancé's Whereabouts Remain Unknown
CBS 2’s Cindy Hsu asked teenagers why it’s getting so popular.
“I just don’t think a lot of people understand the consequences of their actions and how it affects the people that are receiving them,” 17-year-old Amelia Ward said.
Kristin Katz says some teens consider them “flirtationships” that fit into the high-speed technology of growing up today.
“It’s practically embedded into us to not actually care about the human contact,” she said.
“As more and more people do it, it’s becoming more acceptable,” Liz Cheh said, “…and they’re getting like peer pressure.”
Nicole Allard has a teenage son and said they’ve talked about it many times.
“He doesn’t like to talk about it, but I like to talk about it to make sure he’s not doing it,” Allard said.READ MORE: Teen Stabbed To Death After Dutchess County High School Football Game, Former Student Charged
Psychologist Dr. Jeff Gardere says that’s exactly why parents need to be doing.
“Most importantly, parents should not freak out. Parents should see it as a reason to have a conversation,” he said.
Dr. Gardere says try not to be accusatory, find out the motivation—whether it’s peer pressure or something more insidious—and use high-profile cases where sending risqué photos and messages have gone awry.
“We know that people have hacked sites where they are using images of celebrities, so I think those are the cautionary tales that the kids will understand,” he said.
With kids using social media and technology younger and younger, it’s key to make sure they know how to use it responsibly.
“Once it’s out there, it’s out there forever and it causes lots of horrible things to happen later because the repercussions aren’t exactly the safest,” teenager Michael Martin said.
Experts say it’s almost never too early to have the conversation with your children.
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