This quote from an article in the Chicago Tribune seems to say it all:
“It’s a new crisis,” O’Shea said. “Girls all are sending nude photographs of themselves all over the place.”
So what should parents and schools do when attempts to educate kids about privacy do not appear to be sufficient? Enacting state laws on sexting and child pornography are likely ineffective in really preventing impulsive acts or helping a child resist any peer pressure to to do what others are doing.
So here’s a novel thought: you wouldn’t give the keys to your car to a 9-year-old, would you? Of course not, because they don’t have the skills or judgement to drive safely. The safety risks (apart from the legal jeopardy) are obvious.
So if your child doesn’t have the judgment to use a cellphone safely, why are you giving them one? Are you deluding yourself that your child – whose brain won’t be fully developed for a few more decades – has the maturity to resist impulses or peer pressure?
Are you even preventing them from downloading apps that facilitate impulsive and poor decisions?
Yes, kids need privacy and we don’t want our kids to be social outcasts because they don’t have all the cool toys their friends do. But our first job as parents is to keep them safe. If you’re not prepared to do that, just hand them a phone, kid yourself that they’ll make good choices all the time, and while you’re at it, go ahead and hand them the keys to the car.
Update: Nicole Wong has an article on how the rules in her home involve requiring her kids to read privacy policies. Wow.