Text Don’t Sext

. May 1, 2014.

A recent study performed by the University of Michigan advises parents on how to stop teens from sexting, a catchphrase that refers to sending and receiving sexually explicit text messages. While parents might automatically resort to placing strict rules on mobile phone usage, Scott Campbell, associate professor of Communication Studies at the University of Michigan, and the study’s principal investigator, found that this method does not work. “Interestingly, our survey suggested that heavy-handed restriction and supervision of a teen’s phone does not curb sexting,” shares Campbell. “Parents might want to consider playing a supportive, rather than restrictive, role in their teen’s life to prevent this behavior.”

According to the study, there are two things parents can do to prevent teen sexting:

1) Text your kids! Campbell found that when parents text and call their teens on their mobile devices, it discourages them from sexting. Teens are bombarded with peer influence on their cell phones and it makes a big difference to balance it out with parental influence.

2) Pay for your teen’s cell phone bill. Though it may seem like a good lesson in responsibility to have your teen pay their own bill, Campbell found that the younger teens are when they start to pay their own phone bill, the more likely they are to engage in sexting.

Though parents may be reasonably concerned about sexting, this study also shows that it’s not as prevalent as many may think. “There’s a lot of fear in the media and among parents about teen sexting. Despite its visibility in the media, very few teens actually sext,” Scott assures parents. If parents become a stronger presence in their teens’ cellular lives, the statistics fall in their favor.