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Home / Parenteen

My 13-year-old daughter is interested in an older boy, what do I do?

 What if she is sending nudes to her 'boyfriend', should I ask her about it? (Image: Shutterstock)

Hi Chris,

My daughter is 13, and I naively thought that she was not that interested in boys yet. Needless to say, I was quite wrong!

She has not really said anything, but I have figured out that she is interested in an older boy in her school.

Before I could get my mind around that, a friend told me she had accidentally seen a nude photo her daughter had sent to a boy at the same school.

My mind is racing! Is my innocent-seeming daughter doing the same with her ‘boyfriend’? Should I be worried? Should I say anything?

Sexy Selfies

Chris says,

Hi Sexy Selfies!

I sympathise! But it is easy to forget what it was like to be young. Like do you remember your teenage crushes? Passing notes in class? Nowadays children from age 12 send each other explicit messages and nude photos and think it is completely natural.

Because for them the world’s online, so that is one of the ways they flirt. The girls say they enjoy it, and it makes them feel desirable.

They like the idea of sex, although socialising online actually encourages them to start later. Meanwhile, they are imagining what it will be like.

Naturally, you do not like that idea, partly because you have forgotten just how interested in the opposite sex you were at the same age!

In any case, teens are not put off by parents or teachers. They say we do not know what we are talking about and exaggerate the downsides. But downsides there certainly are.

Nudes get sent to the wrong number and shared around, including with complete strangers. This may lead to bullying, revenge porn and mass distribution.

And once a photo’s in the cloud, you cannot control it anymore - including the possibility of hackers getting hold of their images.

Facial recognition algorithms automatically tag online photos and that can hurt their college chances, as admission officers screen for applicants’ names online.

Or it could cost them a future job, or a romantic partner. The law usually treats teens’ online nudes as a form of pornography and exploitation, even if everyone involved is under 18. It also attracts child pornography charges and having to register as a sex offender.

I understand you not liking the idea of your daughter posting sexy photos online. But so long as no one is being pressured, and everyone is aware that the images might be seen by other people, researchers say that it does not appear to be doing any harm.

That said, you should discuss relationships with your daughter, especially about treating each other well and being safe online. Otherwise, this sort of behaviour is completely natural. Just the modern version of what you and I did behind the schoolyard.

All the best,

Chris

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