Teens' phones are windows of their behavior and could be an indicator of sexual activity. Researchers at USC reported that studies show that teens that send more than 100 texts a day are more likely to be sexually active, while those who reported receiving a sext were six times more likely to also report being sexually active.
The TeenSafe app offers a way for parents to monitor sexual texting, Facebook messages and WhatsApp conversations.
Ameeta Jain, co-founder of TeenSafe said "Young teens involved heavily in social media and texting are being faced with difficult propositions that we as parents need to be aware of and act on as teachers and protectors of our children. It is our responsibility to know what is going on in their lives, teaching them that the morals and values we show them at home must transcend into their social and digital lives.”
Children are getting smartphones at younger and younger ages, often without any guidelines or boundaries. Because of curiosity and peer pressure, teens often succumb to sending suggestive pictures to others with 20 to 30 percent of adolescents involving themselves in this behavior.
TeenSafe believes that parents who are aware of the emotional and legal ramifications of this risky behavior are able to open lines of communication with their children, talking to them about how to stay true to their morals, values and beliefs when faced with challenging circumstances. TeenSafe encourages parents to know what their children are doing on social media and their smartphones, keeping lines of communication open in a loving environment.
Parents have a right to look at their teens phones. Parents or legal guardians of child is under the age of 18 years old are legally allowed to monitor their child's activity without informing them.
“Young people need to know from you that it is okay to have desires and feelings, but they also need to learn from you how to deal with those feelings in a healthy way and not in an impulsive manner, such as through sexting,” said Tina Sustaeta, Licensed Professional Counselor and Family Therapist.
TeenSafe allows parents to monitor their child’s iPhone or Android activity (text messages, deleted text messages, Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, location, web browsing history, contacts and call logs). There is a monthly fee for $14.95 for all children. TeenSafe is also working to prevent cyber bullying and the devastating effects of harassing behavior among teens.
To use TeenSafe, you will need to know your child's Apple ID and password to monitor an iPhone. The service does not show media sharing such as MMS but does show text messages.
Over 250,000 parents have signed up for TeenSafe since it was launched. The real test will come when the service finds a way to see what teens are sending via SnapChat.
More facts from the sexting study conducted by USC
The researchers found that even when controlling for sexting behaviors, young teens who sent more than 100 texts a day were more likely to report being sexually active. Other discoveries:
• Young teens who sent sexts were almost four times more likely to report being sexually active.
• Sending and receiving sexts went hand-in-hand: Those who reported receiving a sext were 23 times more likely to have also sent one.
• Students who identified as LGBTQ were nine times more likely to have sent a sext.
• However, unlike past research on high school students, LGBTQ young adolescents were not more likely to be sexually active, the study showed.
• Youth who texted more than 100 times a day were more than twice as likely to have received a sext and almost 4.5 times more likely to report having sent a sext.
Overall, 20 percent of students with text-capable cellphones said they had ever received a sext, and 5 percent report sending a sext. The researchers defined “sext” in their survey as a sexually suggestive text or photo.
The researchers acknowledged that despite anonymity, the data is self-reported and thus subject to social desirability bias, as well as limitations for geographic area and the diverse demographics of Los Angeles.