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Archive for December, 2014

What Is Sexting?

Julie Nelson-Kuna, PhD, LLC
Licensed Clinical Psychologist
800 W. 5th Avenue, Suite 101B
Naperville, Il 60563
(331) 472-7313;  drjulienelsonkuna.com

 

Yikes! Help me understand the appeal of sexting.

First, a note of reassurance that not everyone is doing it!  Surveys vary, but it seems that about a third of teens report that they have sent selfies that include nude body parts, in a sexually provocative pose.   Sexting generally occurs in the context of a relationship, and in this situation, it is likely parents will not know this is occurring, unless they are regularly monitoring their adolescent’s text messages.    It appears that both boys and girls send these images in about the same frequency, but girls are much more likely to be asked to send a sext.

It is the pressured sexters, who are likely girls, that are much more vulnerable to being exploited. Girls believe these nude images will help them get a boyfriend, or make them more popular because they are so ‘edgy.’ A small minority of girls will send these sexts, unsolicited, as a way to gain popularity with a boy. But sexting rarely works, and these girls appear to more susceptible to mental health problems, risky sexual behavior, and self-cyber bullying, which is a disturbing phenomenon in which teens post mean things about themselves on social media sites, to generate sympathy or attention.  Our girls need to believe that they have so much self-worth, beyond their physical appearance.

Teens have always been about exploring their emerging sexuality, and since more and more of their socializing is occurring through social media, it is not surprising that sexual exploration is also found on social media.  As parents, we need to include sexting as part of our family values discussion regarding responsible sexual behavior.  It does appear that sexting is related to increased sexual activity.  Parents should seek to understand their teen’s understanding of why teens sext, and this will help parents better understand the digital world in which their teenagers live. We need to remind our children that sext messages, like all messages, cannot be retrieved, and can easily be shared.  Some individuals who sext, have been subject to criminal investigation by the police, as sexting is defined as self-production and distribution of pornography.

 

Posted in: Teenage Sex & Pornography

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How Can I Help My Teenager Transition to College Life?

Michael Kuna, MD
Psychiatrist/Addictionologist
Genesis Clinical Services
Wheaton, IL
(630) 653-6441
I believe that the concerns that you raise apply not only to students who are matriculating to college, but to any boarding school.  How do we parents deal with the transition of our children from living at home, to living away?  Of course, each child is different; some are more willing to have regular contact with their parents, and some are less willing.

The good news is that your child has already been living more independently than you may think, as he has gone through the natural progression from elementary school through high school.  Don’t forget that you have been teaching him life-skills and he has also been learning from your example all of those years.  He is not as naïve as you may believe.

It is not uncommon for emerging adults to have less contact with their parents, but I feel that it is reasonable to expect at least a weekly check in with mom and dad.  Real phone calls can often a yield a lot more information than an “I’m OK” text message.  If you keep the phone calls short and arrange to have them at a time that is convenient for your student, he’ll likely agree.  Listen to how he sounds on the phone.  It is OK to ask questions, but interrogations will likely shut down the conversation.

You can check other indicators to see how you son is doing.  Are his grades up to his normal standard? Does he sound like his old self, or does he sound anxious and depressed?  It is normal to be a little homesick during the first weeks of starting a new school, but more extreme feelings should raise your concern.

Reading the school’s on-line newspaper can give you a sense of life on campus, and you can even subscribe to the town’s paper to feel more connected to local happenings.

Your child may try new behaviors along with his new independence.  Remember that this is normal, as long his actions are within the norms of his peers. Please don’t forget that the university’s staff works hard to help students with this important transition.

If you convey to your son unconditional love and support it is more likely that he will be more open and honest with you. If you try to control all of his actions, he’ll likely shut down. Shipments of chocolate cookies and funny cards can also keep those phone calls coming!

Posted in: Family & Relationships, Schoolwork & Competition

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