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Sexting: Is your kid doing it?

By Shannon Williams
Mon 15 Feb 2016
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Sexting comes in as the top concern for New Zealand parents, according Vodafone, who says the trend has emerged as the most-viewed topic on its digi-parenting.co.nz website.

The digi-parenting.co.nz site was launched by Vodafone designed to help Kiwi families ‘navigate and make sense of the digital world’. According Vodafone’s Digi-Parenting manager Liz Wilson, almost 10,000 people have visited the site per month.

Wilson says the website’s page on sexting is now the most frequently visited.

She says it’s a clear indication of what parents are really worried about.

“Parents have long been concerned about online predators or their children stumbling across pornography, but now they’re increasingly concerned about sexting and cyberbullying,” Wilson says.

Sean Lyons, chief technology officer for internet safety watchdog NetSafe, says the trend is in line with what NetSafe is seeing.

“The stats on digi-parenting.co.nz are significant – sexting is becoming more and more prevalent amongst New Zealand teens,” Lyons explains.

“You’d be hard pressed to find a teen that hasn’t been asked to send a naked or semi-naked photo of themselves in New Zealand,” he says.

“For some teens, it’s become quite a normal part of dating.”

Lyons says Vodafone and NetSafe worked closely together during Safer Internet Day last week– a global initiative that promotes the safe and positive use of the internet and digital technologies, particularly amongst young people.

Research conducted in 2015 showed that more New Zealand teens experience cyberbullying than those surveyed by Vodafone in ten other countries worldwide, with nearly one in three (30%) Kiwi teens having experienced cyberbullying, compared to the global average of 18%.

Vodafone has developed five top tips for parents – key information which could make the difference between their children having a good or bad experience online.

Tips:

1.      Be better prepared by taking a strong interest in your children’s involvement with technology  

2.      Make sure they know who to talk to if things get out of control. Find other solutions to challenges, rather than instantly reacting and confiscating their devices  

3.     Understand how technology and social media sit in the fabric of young people and how it is an important factor in the development of their social activity  

4.     It’s really important to raise the topic of sexting as part of a wider chat about relationships. It might be embarrassing, but it’s definitely less embarrassing than dealing with naked pictures all over the interne  

5.     Be more aware of who you share images with and have conversations with people about the photos they use. Just because we can share something, doesn’t mean we should

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