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Teen sharing semi-explicit photos

Teen sharing semi-explicit photos

Casual scribe

Teen sharing semi-explicit photos

I recently found out that my 14 yo daughter has a secret Reddit account and has shared an NSFW  photo of herself. From waist to neck. Naked, but with hand and arm over her breasts. More covered than she would be by most bikinis, but still naked. She’s a good kid, but socially awkward with few friends. She talks and shares with me a little, but I know I’m not really getting behind the curtain. Her relationship with control-freak mom is terrible. No sharing of any kind there. I’m pretty liberal about phone use and her “digital life”, and I respect her privacy. Her mom would like to know everything she does every second of the day. Given that, I haven’t told my wife about this. Doing so would be apocalyptic. I haven’t talked to my daughter yet either. I’m trying to see a professional counselor very soon, but looking for some wisdom.


I, of course, want to go directly at this with my daughter, but (A) I don't know if I'll do more harm than good, and (B) I've violated her privacy to see this and I'm concerned that will make all things worse.  Part of me wants to buy every piece of tech known to man to monitor every keystroke she makes.  But I'm fighting hard not to be that guy.


I know she has looked at and posted stuff online that is not consistent with how she represents herself to me.  I know she lies to me.  I don't love those things, but I'm realistic.  Most teenagers behave that way.  I certainly did.  But I can't just say "that's how it is" when it comes to posting a photo.  On a scale of 1 - 100 my level of concern is pegging at 100.  Is that warranted?


Thanks in advance for any thoughts.

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Re: Teen sharing semi-explicit photos

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Hi @captamerica , 


I can imagine that would have been really confronting to see your daughter posting that kind of image on an open forum like Reddit, and I can completely understand why you're feeling concerned about it. 


We do hear from quite a lot of parents about their concerns about their kids sharing nudes and sexting online, we recently had a child and family professional answering some questions about these topics, you can check out that thread  here 


They had some great tips about how to navigate those tricky conversations with kids that I just thought I would share here: 



  • - Express your concerns to her.  Use “I” statements to communicate your feelings to her.  For example, “I’m really worried about what you are doing”.  By using “I” statements you are removing judgement and blame and minimising the potential for her to become defensive. 
  • - Increase your understanding of the issue from her point of view.  Listen to her without judgement and blame, acknowledge and validate her feelings and point of view.  Keep your reactions in check and show her that you can handle what she has to say as this will allow her to feel safe and keep the lines of communication open.
  • - Check her understanding of the issue.  Use gentle and curious questions to find out whether she perceives this behaviour as an issue, if she has thought about the risks and also whether she has any idea of the legal implications of what she is doing.  For example, “How do you feel about sending/receiving nude pictures?” “Have you thought about what might happen to these pictures?”, “Are you aware of the legal issues of sexting?”  The focus here is about increasing understanding rather than interrogating. 
  • - Provide her with factual information.  Without lecturing her provide her with information that you can both discuss calmly.  Perhaps you could do some online research together.  Some important things to focus on might be the risks associated with sexting such as losing control over the image once it is shared, your teen’s digital footprint, and the legal implication

We also have a great resource on the ReachOut parents website about sexting and posting nudes here, in case that's helpful for you. It sounds like it might be good to chat through the possible implications of her having her nude images online, including the possibility of them being shared in other places without her consent. 


It sounds like you have a close and trusting relationship with your daughter, and that's such a hugely valuable thing  in the teenage years - with that in mind, it's probably good to fight the temptation to install tracking software or tell her you've been monitoring her account - do you think you could have these conversations in general terms instead? 


Chatting to a counsellor also sounds like it could be really helpful - good on you for being so proactive in looking out for your daughter and your relationship with her. 

Casual scribe

Re: Teen sharing semi-explicit photos

Thank you Janine. Those tips all make sense. I just keep going round and round in my head with how to approach this. Hopefully I arrive at a strategy before I go completely crazy.