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I need to talk to them about sexting - how? Help please

(70 Posts)
TheOriginalSteamingNit Mon 28-Jan-13 14:18:41


I looked in my dd's diary yesterday - not proud, very ashamed, wish I hadn't but maybe it's for the best. Her boyfriend (they are ELEVEN) has sent her some dubious messages and photos - without going into too much detail, it's not on. It is unclear what she's sent him, if anything, but I'm worried.

Things now click into place - she's started closing her door at night when she used to like it open, she has her iPod touch with her at all times, she hides the screen from anyone else in the room. I thought she was just growing up, but I now think it's probably not so innocent.

This is a child who's always been terribly earnest and innocent - I am utterly taken aback, and I feel very conscious of having let her down and not covered this properly. Her sister is older, but having just been googling recent articles and statistics on this, I think she probably needs the talk too.

However, I can't kick off by saying I've read her diary - I know some might say I should, but I'm not going to. But I do obviously need to talk to her. I'm thinking - and hoping it won't be too transparent - of saying I heard a thing on Woman's Hour about this and that it made me think I ought to speak to them about it: do they know what sexting is, do they know how serious.... etc.

What do you reckon?
I don't need to be told I've been getting this wrong - I know. I'm ashamed and very concerned, and now I want to do whatever is best.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Mon 28-Jan-13 14:33:07

anyone else dealt with anything remotely similar....?

deleted203 Mon 28-Jan-13 14:38:36

Oh Golly....I don't know if I've got any advice, but just to say I've read and sympathise. it possible to sit her down and say that you are concerned she and her 'bf' are getting too intense and that 11 is really too young to be dating. I'm too old to really understand an iPod touch (thought you just downloaded music onto it?) but is it a phone, also? Can you tell her that you will be keeping the iPod after, say, 9.00pm at night (or whatever bedtime it) as she needs to be sleeping then, not contacting people. The idea that you have access to it at certain times might be enough to stop her sending/receiving sexts.

Tortington Mon 28-Jan-13 14:40:03

yeah, i'd keep the phone at 9pm - great idea.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Mon 28-Jan-13 14:43:20

Thank you both.

yes, an iPod touch is essentially like a little iPad, so you can go on facebook and any sort of internet chatting as long as you have WiFi. I would very much like to take it off her at 9, though this may be difficult to implement without also taking dd1s off her, but she uses it for the alarm, and will also probably query why the sudden ban!

Actually, we have long had a 'no screens' rule in the living room between 8 and 9, to prevent evenings where everyone is sitting texting/facebooking/mumsnetting. Perhaps I had the wrong priority, and need to trade that for phones at bedtime or somerhing.

MimsyBorogroves Mon 28-Jan-13 14:48:18

Or bring in a household rule that wireless is off after 9pm.

They'll be talking about these things in PSHE (or whatever it's called now) but I would personally bring it up with her at home. Have a talk about relationships generally, very open and frank, and find out what she knows. Talk to her about pornography on the Internet (again, in as much detail as you feel comfortable) and how this can skew perceptions of sex in relationships. From there you can discuss how newer "social" media has caused problems - talk to her about the age of consent and how this can blur those lines sometimes, but how, for example, underage girls taking pictures of themselves/others and sharing them is classed as distribution of child pornography.

If you're really concerned and unsure as to how to proceed, I think the nspcc give advice on protective behaviours.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Mon 28-Jan-13 15:04:46

Thank you Mimsy. I did wonder about just turning wireless off, yes. No more mumsnet in the evening would be a small price to pay... the problem is how to proceed without it being obvious that this isn't just an abstract, theoretical concern.

Fuck, I am out of my depth sad

secretscwirrels Mon 28-Jan-13 16:43:11

She is extremely young for this but you do need to talk.How about a mythical scenario as a conversation opener " my friend has a DD your age and she was .....insert inappropriate behaviour..... ".

Ok turning wi fi off would help in a way but it doesn't solve the problem, merely limits the time of day. They don't just do this stuff after 9pm.
If you don't want her on the phone or whatever after 9pm then tell her.
Check up.
Have consequences.
She needs to know what the boundaries are and what will happen if she crosses them. Let her know that you are going to check her phone, ipod, browsing history and that she must give you access in return for being allowed to have those things.

OhMerGerd Tue 29-Jan-13 00:51:19

First up she's 11. Not 16 or 18 or even anyteen but 11. You should not be worried to check her ipod and discuss it with her. You have to tell her you have seen the images, set some rules for use and stick to them. iPods are an iPhone without calls. But they can text/ message and use FaceTime etc so you need to be firm about supervised use of all equipment.
She needs a bit of a reality check to make her understand that the content is not private and potentially accessible to everyone including her parents and teachers granny etc so that the talk you are going to have with her and other DC hits home.
I'd also tell the boys mum. Quietly calmly and non accusatory. The children have been swapping pictures. I've found some compromising ones of your son which are being destroyed. I would appreciate it if you could talk to your son and do the same.
To dd I would Say, . I am very embarrassed for insert boys name because I have seen the pictures he has sent you and it's possible that other people will have seen them too. His mum is checking his phones and computers to see what he has sent and if there are any pictures that have been sent to him so she can destroy them before they get into the wrong hands. Don't accuse her. If she has sent any she is likely to be mortified and possibly get upset and confess. Either way I'd use the opportunity to explain why sending sexual pictured is a problem, but also comfort her, say me And boys mum are going to help you both with this mistake for these reasons and that it must never happen again. You don't want her to feel as though there is no way back from this.
Then you need to start having the series of talks, chats and q&a that you were expecting to have in 5 years. The difference between like, lust and love. Grooming, Sex, contraception societal attitudes and why ee hxve laws on age of consent, paedophilia, keeping safe.
She has not lost all innocence and this does need to be age appropriate but don't be shocked if she knows more than you thought she might.
And the gadgets have parental controls set on them. They go off at 8 for an 11 year old. There is no need for her to take the iPod to school or use it in a room alone. If the screen can't be seen it's when in use it's confiscated. Falling asleep as I
Type , so good night and all the best .

TheOriginalSteamingNit Tue 29-Jan-13 09:13:41

I'm very aware that she's 11, believe me.

Anyway, I have spoken to her - not confronted her, but I saw her switch windows quickly from facebook to something else when I came near and said this concerned me, and then told her about all the stuff in the news lately and how careful you need to be that anything you receive as a message, or send, can be very serious, and that it's important not to send anything you wouldn't want your parents, your school, all your friends or indeed the police to see etc, and what the consequences can be.

I won't speak to his mother - I don't know anything about her or how she is likely to respond, so I think this could be a risky move. I have emailed the form tutor and told her that I thought she should be aware that some year 7s were sending inappropriate messages and that I felt school ought to be informed of this. Waiting on a reply.

sashh Tue 29-Jan-13 09:19:32

How about telling them you have come across things on here about sexting and you want to talk to both of them about it and the effects on their future.

And just to add one thing.

I kept a diary at that age, I knew it was being read, I wrote things to shock / upset the reader.

YourHandInMyHand Tue 29-Jan-13 09:33:19

Is there much of an age difference between your DD1 and your 11yr old? It's fine to have different rules for different ages you know, but I agree time limiting won't stop the problem.

Hopefully as you have now had a chat with her about it she will be thinking about it more. I think my main focuses would be that it's more than okay to not partake by saying not comfortable, and that things posted/texted/messaged are then out there forever and can be potentially seen by all and sundry.

11 years old. shock It's scary isn't it!?! My DS is only 8 so I still have all this to come.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Tue 29-Jan-13 09:39:50

Well I feel scummy now but I have just logged into her facebook and read her messages.

He is saying things to her which are not appropriate - but she is saying she loves him, and asking him for pictures - not sexual pictures, just 'send me a nice photo'. SOme of these requests are being met with topless pictures of him with his pants showing, and requests in turn from him for pictures back.

She is also waiting until we are asleep and then skyping him. And she said yesterday 'my mum just had an embarrassing talk to me about what I send in messages', after which nothing much except 'looooooove you xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx' until late at night.

I am struggling wiht how she's actually feeling about this - she is obviously into him in a big way, and it's very difficult to reconcile this with what I 'know' about her.

I think I do have to get the iPod off her before bedtime - but I think this will result in big kicking off and she will surely work out that I've been checking up.

specialsubject Tue 29-Jan-13 09:40:29

phones can easily be confiscated overnight and should be. buy them an alarm clock.

sexting at 11?? shock

TheOriginalSteamingNit Tue 29-Jan-13 09:50:48

Yes, don't worry, I'm doing the shock face myself plenty.

This is a bloody minefield, and has happened so quickly. She was a very 'little' girl until recently, into Sticker Dolly Dressing and scrapbooks. She started puberty much earlier than her sister, started her periods in July and just seems to be way ahead of anything I was ready for. We thought the iPod was a great present; she used it for music and games and it made her really happy: I had not foreseen that she was at this stage at all.

I need to explain that she can't have it at night, however difficult the conversation. But that doesn't make it easy, at all.

Theas18 Tue 29-Jan-13 09:56:58

Sorry this is happening and is so unpleasant, but I fear this is an "I'm the adult your the child" moment.

She has a lot of unsupervised net access. Is this leading to serious problems with inappropriate behaviour bordering on the " possession of indecent images" . TBH I think ipods/phones with mum by 9pm is a minimum for an 11yr old. Personally at that age all net access was on shared PC/laptop in the lounge. My 13yr old (14 in may) has just got un supervised daytime net access but we still have her tablet at bed time. This sort of thing applied until 15 with the older kids.

Also check her photos on her phone. does she have internet on that ? My 13 and 17yr olds don't...

TheOriginalSteamingNit Tue 29-Jan-13 10:02:37

She has a PAYG phone which does have a camera but is rarely topped up: the iPod does almost everything she could use it for, and that is locked with a bloody password.

I think I've been naive and stupid in seeing the iPod as more a music/media thing than a messaging and internet tool, and she's had it on about the same level as her kindle. This was obviously a massive mistake.

notso Tue 29-Jan-13 10:24:47

My DD is nearly 13 and after finding out she had been texting a boy and face-timing friends at 4 in the morning, she has to bring her phone and Ipod downstairs at 9 and doesn't get them back until she is ready for school. It was met with an almighty strop and much complaining and door slamming, but over the past few months she has accepted it.

You need to be honest and open about boyfriends, try not to show that inside you are screaming you are my baby girl I am not ready to do this!
My Mum frostily told me at 11 I was too young to like boys and have boyfriends, as a result I didn't discuss any boyfriends with her until I was about 16.
I told my DD she shouldn't be putting anything on facebook or in a text that she wouldn't feel comfortable saying to me.
We talked about having crushes on boys, I showed her a photo of one of my first boyfriends which she found hilarious! I tried to show I understood how she had feelings for boys and that it was perfectly natural but also told her I felt some of the things she was saying in texts were not appropriate for her age.
I went over the fact that anything she puts on Facebook will be there forever and said that it was easy to put online or in a text things you would never say face to face.
After two months the boy split up with her and she was really upset, but she came to me and told me about it and about how he put on FB she smelled of shit and she replied "I smell of Taylor Swifts Wonderstruck actually"grin grin
I always make a point of asking her about boys etc and was really pleased when she asked me to tell her friends mum that her daughter was going out with a boy because she thought it was better that her Mum knew!

Theas18 Tue 29-Jan-13 10:29:32

steamingnit, you know you can turn off the wifi on an ipod and PIN lock it don't you?

Stick with the P+G and watch the balance (lots suggests maybe she's sending photo messages) .

This too will pass as all phases do. You are now alert and keeping her safe. You do have to be "nosy" though. My 13yr old allows me to be nosy or at least have the right to access all her stuff, but the deal is I wont be a difficult parent unless I have too. Silliness etc is tolerated and chats with mates about embarrassing things wont be mentioned unless I think they constitute something unsafe or seriously inappropriate (eg I'd put up with swearing in messages , though I'd rather she wasn't the one doing it, but bullying /racism/sexually explicit stuff I would be concerned about).

When the older kids hit 15 and had their own laptop I didn't police that, but we have a porn blocker and I have /did have passwords etc in case I really needed them but never used them.

Reaa Tue 29-Jan-13 10:38:03

You could just make conversation and just say something along the lines of blah blah (one if your friends name) got sent a picture of this girls boobs by mistake the other day apparently this girl had sent it to her boyfriend and he thought it would be funny to sent it to some of his mates even though he had promised his girlfriend he would not, but he also got my friends number my mistake and that how she ended up with it.
Don't forget to tell your friend you are using her as a cover story.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Tue 29-Jan-13 10:46:56

Thank you all. I've been turning over different ways of addressing this, and am planning to speak to her again tonight.

She knows I have her facebook password: when they left year 6, lots of them got facebook so they could stay in touch with people who went to different secondary schools. I've never felt the need to check on her until now, but I think I need to tell her that I have done, and am worried - even if she is furious and embarrassed and hates me for a bit.

I need to tell her she isn't to have the iPod at night, and that the business of being 11 can include liking boys, and having new feelings, and that I know she's growing up: but being 11 does not include unlimited internet access, late night conversations and photos. Even if the boy is allowed to do this, and it has come to seem like a normal thing to do.

I do need to keep her safe, and I'm going to have to take steps to do that even at the risk of making myself extremely unpopular with her.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Tue 29-Jan-13 10:51:09

I can't concentrate on anything, I bloody hate this: this is my little girl.

Maryz Tue 29-Jan-13 10:51:18

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

notso Tue 29-Jan-13 10:58:34

She will roll out the old "everyone else is allowed", can you talk to any friends Parents about what they are/aren't allowed?
Mercifully DD's best friends Mum and I still see each other on the playground and we have very similar opinions on things so much so we coordinated giving permission to open a FB account and have a TV in the bedroom (for DVD's only).
Also be vigilant for her opening a new FB account in a different name, I have noticed a few of DD's FB friends have one account where they are friends with their parents and one in another name where they are not.

I think all the parents buying their 3 year old tablets etc should read threads like this, the IPod touch was the worst thing we ever bought for DD.

MoodyDidIt Tue 29-Jan-13 11:01:26

omg no real advice i am afraid OP but i have read this in saddened horror - am only 33 but fgs when i was 11 it was so much more innocent sad 11, they are just little kids sad

i have a 3 yo dd and a 6 yo ds and the thought of having to deal with this sort of stuff in just 5 or 6 years is terrifying

i feel for you, and i hope you get it sorted x

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