Dear Parents, Here’s Why Your Teens Think Sexting Is ‘No Big Deal’

6. We need to support girls to foster their own talents and abilities in multiple areas of life, and encourage boys to support them too.

You don’t want your teen to sext? Try telling them not to do it and let me know how that works out for you. Kidding! That’s not going to work. For parents of boys, it’s important to acknowledge the pressure girls feel to prove they are sexy and to encourage them to recognize girls’ interests, talents, and knowledge above their looks whenever possible. For parents of girls, it’s important to focus on their abilities and not just their looks or dress from a young age. We don’t want their only dose of self-esteem boost to come from a sexy selfie because her sexual worth is her only worth.

7. We need to hold boys and men accountable for their actions. They ARE capable of not acting on sexual impulses.

Parents and schools should be telling boys that asking girls for nude photos is sexual harassment, and that sexual harassment should have consequences under Title IX. Think of how maniacal and vile it is to hurt someone so badly by utterly humiliating them and potentially running future possibilities by posting nude photos online. Compare this with the act of complying with a partner’s request to send a nude photo. Whose motivation is unhealthy: The person who sent the photo hoping to please a partner? Or the person who posted or forwarded the photo for all to see? Unfortunately, our ‘boys will be boys’ mentality undermines our sons’ intellect and self-control. They are perfectly capable of resisting sexts and holding their friends accountable for doing the same.

Bottom line, sexting among teens is complicated. As parents, it’s difficult to know what we can do about it. Have no fear, being open and listening to your children is always the best place to start! But the next steps should be to do what most of us don’t think to do: (a) empower our girls to support one another and not bring other girls down and (b) and make it clear to all boys that requesting and posting sexts are both unacceptable acts of sexual harassment.


  1. Walrave, M., Ponnet, K., Van Ouytsel, J., Van Gool, E., Heirman, W., & Verbeek, A. (2015). Whether or not to engage in sexting: Explaining adolescent sexting behaviour by applying the prototype willingness model. Telematics and Informatics, (April). doi:10.1016/j.tele.2015.03.008
  2. Vanden Abeele, M., Campbell, S. W., Eggermont, S., & Roe, K. (2014). Sexting, Mobile Porn Use, and Peer Group Dynamics: Boys’ and Girls’ Self-Perceived Popularity, Need for Popularity, and Perceived Peer Pressure. Media Psychology, 17, 6–33. doi:10.1080/15213269.2013.801725.
  3. Milhausen, R. R., & Herold, E. S. (1999). Does the sexual double standard still exist? Perceptions of university women. Journal of Sex Research, 36, 361-368.
  4. Calogero, R. M., & Thompson, J. K. (2009). Sexual self-esteem in American and British college women: Relations with self-objectification and eating problems. Sex Roles, 60, 160-173.
  5. Grabe, S., & Hyde, J. S. (2009). Body objectification, MTV, and psychological outcomes among female Adolescents1. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 39, 2840-2858.
  6. Schick, V. R., Calabrese, S. K., Rima, B. N., & Zucker, A

Dr. Megan Maas
Dr. Megan Maas
Megan Maas is a sex educator and developmental psychologist who writes about sex and social media at

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