There is a serious threat that is looming over our sons, and they have no idea how dangerous it really is. Sexting has become an epidemic, and a shocking number of teenagers are engaging in it. This could be through text, programs like Snapchat, or on other sites across the web. Wherever it is being done, you are probably worried about it and looking for more info on making sure your son doesn’t fall into the trap.

As a father, it is your job to protect your child. While they may be claiming not to have any idea what sexting is, or just not to be taking part themselves, they have almost certainly been exposed at least once.

Here are some things you need to know.

Sexting: What It Means

We are all aware of the phenomenon of cyber sex. That has evolved over the years to a more intimate, one on one form done primarily through smartphones. Though your teen may claim it isn’t a big deal, and the threat is overblown, don’t believe it. This can be harmful in both direct and indirect ways, and both you and your son needs to be aware of the risks.

On the less extreme side, sexting is only done through written words. They can become highly graphic, which can have an emotional impact by introducing sexuality to teens who are not old enough to cope with what it means. But on the more intense end, it can include photos and videos, sometimes showing very graphic images.

Not only does this expose anyone who engages in the practice to possibly having these images seen by others, but there is a legal issue to consider. The transmission of sexual images involving underage people, male or female, constitutes child pornography. Your son could end up charged, even if they are underage themselves. Law enforcement agencies have made examples of teens numerous times, charging them with sex crimes.

Stepping In Before It Is Too Late

How do you keep your son safe? While you can never control their behavior 100% of the time, there are some methods you can employ to stop him from sexting:

Let Him Come To You - Perhaps the best thing you can do for your son with any issue is to let him know he can come to you about anything. Communication is key in parenting well adjusted children, especially when it concerns the big problems teens face today. Let him know that even if he has engaged in such things, he can be open with you without fear. You are his father, and you love will always be there.

Educate Him - Your son has almost certainly not considered the possible consequences of sexting, especially the legal implications. Sit him down and tell him the risks. Show him cases where child pornography charges have been brought against teens, or people found out about pics and videos, leading them to spread. The idea isn’t to scare him, but to inform him of the dangers.

Show Him How To Disengage - Opportunities are going to arise, and your son is going to be tempted. What teen wouldn’t have trouble saying no to someone in their peer group exposing them to sexual content? Show your son ways to disengage when things go too far. Give him the tools he needs to remain in control.

Don’t Be Afraid To Be Tough - In the beginning the methods above are great. But if he continues to sext, or you suspect he might be ignoring the advice, it is time to get tough. Take away his smartphone, limit his interactions on the computer, and do whatever else needs to be done to stop the behavior. Remember that this is not a small issue; he could ruin his life with a single photo.

Navigating Choppy Waters

This is a hard and uncomfortable subject to address. You will probably be embarrassed, worried, and angry. Don’t worry, those feelings are normal. So are your son’s tentative steps into exploring his sexuality. You are his father, and so you are responsible for helping him to navigate the choppy waters of post-puberty.

It is a learning process for you both.

Author's Bio: 

As the content writer and outreach coordinator for HelpYourTeenNow, Tyler Jacobson joined the team after years of parenting a son with Reactive Attachment Disorder. He lends his experiences and education to other parents looking for ways to help their teens that struggle in school, social, and family circles. Topics that Tyler commonly writes on are parenting, troubled teens, education problems, behavioral disorders, and addictions. Follow Tyler on: Twitter | LinkedIn