Teen Angst

Helping adolescents deal with anger and other emotions effectively

The Dangers of Teen Sexting

Engaging in sexting is a dangerous activity for teens! It can have adverse side effects and the consequences can be life-long. Research shows that approximately 20-30 percent of teens have sent and/or received a sext. Read More

good news?

Why do you consider it "good news" that 21 states have passed laws related to sexting? I have read that in some states, a teen can be charged with child pornography for sending a photo of him or herself.

I'm curious as to how these laws benefit teens.

Laws on Sexting

Hello and thank you for your question. I hope that we'd all agree that child pornography is a hefty consequence for a teen who makes a mistake. While some states charge these teens with offenses such as the distribution of child pornography, many states are working to create or pass sexting laws. Many of the sexting laws allow the juveniles caught "sexting" to complete a diversionary program. These programs teach teens about the penalties and social consequences of sending or receiving nude or risque images via cell phones or computers. I consider this "good news" because it's time that the laws catch up with technology. The "bad news" is we still have a long way to go...


Some people find it useful for their relationships as it can deliver or express what they exactly feel to their sex partners. They may use any modern device such as mobile phones, tablets, and even laptops to send and receive the messages or emails. In other words, sexting is simply another version or the texting version of phone sex.


I've been reading posts on

I've been reading posts on the topic of sexting in several online forums. Many parents seem to not know what sexting is or what its consequences are (particularly for adolescents). For anyone who doesn't know what sexting is exactly, I would recommend checking out the Wikipedia page, especially if you wish to have a discussion about the topic with your own teens

While the psychological consequences of adolescent sexting are currently unknown, the legal consequences can be severe. A peer-reviewed study called Sexting by High School Students: An Exploratory and Descriptive Study was published recently in Archives of Sexual Behavior. Researchers Donald S. Strassberg, Ryan Kelly McKinnon, Michael Sustaíta and Jordan Rullo (pictured below) at the University of Utah Department of Psychology surveyed 606 teenagers ages 14-18 and found that nearly 20 percent of the students said they had sent a sexually explicit image of themselves via cell phone, and nearly twice as many said that they had received a sexually explicit picture. Of those receiving such a picture, over 25 percent indicated that they had forwarded it to others. In addition, of those who had sent a sexually explicit picture, over a third had done so despite believing that there could be serious legal and other consequences if they got caught. Students who had sent a picture by cell phone were more likely than others to find the activity acceptable. The authors conclude: "These results argue for educational efforts such as cell phone safety assemblies, awareness days, integration into class curriculum and teacher training, designed to raise awareness about the potential consequences of sexting among young people." http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22674035

If you are a parent, this is a topic that would be wise to discuss with your teens.


I found sexting photos and very foul language on my 14 yo son's phone. We were devastated. My husband and I chose to talk to him and take his phone and laptop away until trust was earned. He was mortified and remorseful that he was involved with this and seems to be changing his ways on this "slippery slope".

Upon letting his friends, that he was involved sexting with, know he was grounded, his girlfriend was mortified (as well she should be) and his friend was just concerned that I was going to call his mom.

My question is, do I contact his friend's and girlfriend's parents? I know I would want to be contacted if it were me but these are uncharted waters for us.

Difficult Situation...

Dear Reader,

Sorry to hear that you and your family are going through this ordeal. Your last statement answers your very question. If a parent knew that your son participated in sexting and didn't share it with you, how would you feel? By no means is this an easy topic to approach, but it is important to do what's in the best interest of the teens. In some states sexting is a criminal offense and if these teens continue to sext the consequences could be much greater than dealing with disappointed parents.

When you are ready to let your son have electronic privileges back I'd recommend parental controls and speaking with your phone service provider about family monitoring plans.

Best of luck in this difficult situation.

Raychelle C. Lohmann

Thank you so much for your

Thank you so much for your response. You've been very helpful. Now I just have to muster enough courage to call the parents. You want to do it for me? lol



I talked to both moms and both were embarrassed to death but appreciative that I called. So, I'm really glad I did.

Unfortunately, the friend's mom said that this isn't the first time her son has been in trouble for this and that his phone, etc. would be taken away. His punishment ever happened. *sigh*

The girlfriend's mom was so gracious and we ended up talking on the phone for almost an hour in support of each other as parents.

To my son's credit, the girlfriend's mom was very concerned about my son not being able to continue the relationship. "he has been such a wonderful and positive influence on her". (other than this incident, I'm sure-lol)

Thank you for your guidance. It is much, much appreciated!!


Thank you for the update

Thank you for the update and you are welcome. I hope all lessons have been learned teens part... Best of luck.


Teen doesn't know I know

I recently "found" that my 16 yr old daughter is sexting...right now it's "bad" words having to do with sex and taking it one step further than a good flirt...some pics have been snapchat'd by boys, and so far, nothing from her end. I know she'll deny what I know...and I know from previous conversations with her, that she doesn't feel anything is wrong with what "others" have done...just innocent chatter amoung friends is what I hear from her...even when a kid was expelled from her piivate school...she said she thought the punishment was way too harsh.
I loved the article, it was very informative. I have taken away her cell and ipad due to another unrelated bad choice she made..this grounding is almost up (it's been a month). How do I approach this with my daughter? let her know that I know and still keep an open communication between us?
I'm going out of town next week, and I have a feeling that there are plans being made (again bad choices)...but how do I talk about this with her without creating a closed door attitude with her? I want to protect and have let her know that I want to give her freedoms, but that there are consequences to her actions...that frontal lobe is definately not working in her head!

No Simple Answer...

Dear Reader,

Thank you for your compliment on the blog.

Unfortunately, there is not a simple answer to your question... However, in this role you are still the parent and the protector of your daughter. I believe in modeling honesty.

If you suspect that your daughter is "hatching a plan" in your absence and misusing the privileges that you have provided, then you need to address it. The best way to do this is by setting aside some time where it is just the two of you. Let her know that you are very concerned about some of the decisions that she is making. Remind her that you love her and want to have open communication, but that has to start with trust.

Speak to her like you would a young adult and discuss your expectations and consequences for failing to abide by the rules. Next, is the hardest part for parents---consistency. If she breaks a rule be consistent with the consequences that you have outlined.

To conclude, if you want your daughter to be honest with you---be honest with her. I can tell by your inquiry that you are a caring mother who wants the best for her daughter. Best of luck in this difficult situation.



First, thank you so much for writing such an informative blog, and also for the great feedback to my questions.
My daughter and I did have a long heart to heart last Thurs...and the ice was broken, we both felt that the channels of communication had opened...Although she has technically lied to me, I feel that anything she does that she knows I wouldn't approve of, is something she either shouldn't do, or something that she would feel she'd need to hide from me. I took your suggestion about talking to her like a young adult...I actually prefaced our talk on that. I also told her that I'm her mother and that more than a smidge of "parent" was going to squeeze through.
She was very receptive...I told her that "It has come to my attention..." Glad that she didn't ask how! I was explicit and to the point, all the while letting her know my concern and love for her. I pointed out the felony charges that the 15 yr. old is going through in ND (or maybe it's SD?) I talked not only about the legal ramifications, but the emotional ones too...that they always seem to come back to bite, and that once that is out in cyberspace, it's out there...Our talk took an hour...it WAS just the two of us at a park (neutral ground). She didn't deny as I thought she would. Thank the Lord!
In conclusion of our talk, I told her that I needed all her passwords...to cell, to FB, to Snapchat...I told her I may not use them, and I really didn't want to pry, but that I wanted her to know that I COULD anytime I felt the need.

Thank you again for your help!

Update to the Update...

After reading my update I saw some errors...like, I indicated that she "technically lied to me" and that should have read, she DIDN'T technically lie to me... Also it wasn't clear that this was our 2nd talk...the door opened last thurs and then again today using your suggestions on our walk thru the park. :)

liam is da best you

liam is da best you

Sexting prevention resources for digital parents

Unfortunately, sexting amongst tweens and teens is too common. I would highly encourage parents to check out uKnowKids (http://www.uknowkids.com) to help make your digital parenting life easier and simpler... And keep your kids safer online and on the mobile phone. Also, check out http://resources.uknowkids.com for hundreds of digital parenting resources including articles, ebooks, infographics, statistics, tip sheets, etc... All of this digital parenting info is free, and hopefully, valuable to your digital parenting efforts. Good luck!

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Raychelle Cassada Lohmann, M.S., L.P.C., is the author of The Anger Workbook for Teens.


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