Talking to your kids about nudes

Hi! I wanted to talk about “nudes” – sexting pictures that teens are distributing in unbelievable numbers. It is pretty much the case that it’s not an “if” our kids will see or be solicited for nudes but a “when it happens.”

Well, during a recent event, we were talking with a mom who walked into her daughter’s bedroom as she was in the middle of snapping a nude photo. Umm….awkward!!

Two key thoughts about nudes: 1) it is worth telling your kids to not do them. While it can seem innocent – and actually many girls HOPE to get asked for a nude because it’s a sign of interest or attractiveness – bad stuff happens almost all the time. In many cases, the pictures don’t remain private and once a relationship ends, or a friend becomes angry, the pictures can be mass distributed in an act of revenge, leading to deep shame, embarrassment, etc. that can lead to major depression and other challenging things. 

2) It takes some creativity to actually help them be equipped not to do them.

Do you remember the Just Say No Campaign from the 80s + 90s? It was to encourage kids to say NO to drugs. However, the sad thing about it is despite spending billions of dollars on it, it didn’t work. it was overly simplistic. One of the key things that would happen is when kids would say “no” – the people pressuring them would keep pushing. And the kids would run out of things to say. 

I grew up with a member of my extended family who had destroyed her life through alcoholism. When I was at parties pressured to drink, I would often share that and explain I just wasn’t interested. I don’t know if anyone ever pushed me after that. 

It’s similar with nudes. Kids will get pressured hard for them and it’s important as a parent to help your kid brainstorm the types of responses they could give. One girl shared that she texted a nude image of a Barbie doll. We also loved the story of a girl texting back a black square with the caption – “here I am nude in the dark.” But other being more firm “I saw what happened to another person. I’m not in for that.” or “I respect myself too much for that.” Or maybe something sassy, “Um…no a picture just can’t do it justice.” 

One resource you could use to spark this conversation is our smartphone plan which has a section talking about how to handle nudes. A couple other ideas to help? 

  1. Keep phones out of private spaces like bedrooms and bathrooms. It’s a lot less likely your kiddo will pose for a nude in the kitchen. 

  2. As your kids are first getting phones, consider a basic phone, like the Gabb phone that doesn’t allow for as much functionality.

  3. If you have a smartphone, install a filtering program like Bark that helps to monitor images being shared on social media apps.

We recently heard that it’s harder to be a parent than ever because it’s harder to be a teenager than ever. We wish you luck and encouragement as you have these important conversations with your kids!