Been caught sexting
Her teenage son is a great kid. He also sends racy text messages. Is this just a sign of the times, or is he a virtual philanderer? One mom shares her strategy for dealing with sexting.
By Geraldine Jeffers
He rarely leaves the house, and he’s only had one date — but I’m concerned that my 15-year-old is a womanizer (or as he puts it, with a devilish grin, a “playa”). Despite this — or the rumors about “rainbow parties,” kids losing their virginity in middle school, and shows like 16 and Pregnant — I’m not all that worried. Sure, he was recently “dating” eight girls at the same time. But to call this dating is a stretch: These relationships happen entirely via text message. It’s called “sexting.” From the moment he and a girl hook up to the time she (it’s always her) dumps him, they never see each other — except at school and on Facebook.
It all began when he started high school. He became an object of desire for a handful of middle school girls who thought dating a high schooler would raise their social status. They got his cell number and started texting and calling him. He couldn’t believe his luck.
This quickly evolved into dating by text. He sends flirty messages, gets to call someone “baby,” trots out the sexy song lyrics he’s committed to memory, shows off the wit he’s often too shy to use in the presence of an actual girl, and laments how much he wants to see them — though he never makes any effort to do so.
In case you think I'm being duped about what he's up to, I should point out that my son’s a child of this era, which means he shares everything on Facebook and never goes anywhere without asking for a ride. So I know. I drove him to his one and only date. And when he kissed that girl, he snapped a photo of the lip-lock and posted it to Facebook, calling it his first kiss. Then, shortly after asking the world why the worst day ever (the day he got dumped) happened a mere day after the best day ever (his first kiss), the sad poetry started on Facebook. So I think I have a pretty clear picture of what’s going on.
Texting is the medium for today’s teen, just as the phone was for my generation. I doubt anyone can — or should — stop it altogether. I do worry that all this texting is a crutch keeping my son from forming actual romantic connections. But as long as he has friendships and a balanced life, I think it’s more likely providing him with much-needed practice talking to girls. You see, my tall, handsome boy is shy and overthinks everything. He’s comfortable at home and in small groups of close friends, but he clams up in a crowd and around girls. Like any teenage boy who likes girls, he wants to date them, be liked by them, and — someday, if all goes well — touch them.
But I’m not taking the dangers lightly, either. The problem with sexting is that it can get wildly out of control for reasons no teen — certainly not mine — is equipped to handle. (Hell, even celebrities and politicians have proven ill-equipped to manage their would-be private sexts.) According to a 2009 study conducted by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, 20 percent of teenagers engage in sexting on a regular basis. And a more recent poll by Wet, a manufacturer of intimacy products, found that almost a quarter of respondents have accidentally sent a sexy text or “sext” to the wrong person.