You can't stick your head in the sand. Teenagers have phones with cameras and Internet connections. Teenagers push the boundaries. It's inevitable that some teenagers will, um, behave inappropriately on their phones.
If we didn't know already, adolescents are sexting, and sexting often leads to sex. Two recent studies appear to confirm this: one was published on June 30, 2014, in the journal Pediatrics (pdf); and another by researchers at the University of Utah, as described in an October 9, 2014, article on First Post.
Note that the first of the two studies concludes that not all sexters become sexually active as a result, as the Washington Post's Amy Joyce explains in an October 6, 2014, article. According to Joyce, sending a sexy message or photo has become the equivalent of getting to first base.
Regardless of what may transpire, it is imperative to discuss sexting and other inappropriate phone activities with your children before they are given a phone.
Of course, rules were made to be broken -- especially by teenagers. Yahoo Tech's Dan Tynan offers "7 Survival Tools for Parents of Teenagers" in a September 28, 2014, article. Among the tools are apps that let you read the texts your child sends and receives, and that lock the keyboard to prevent texting while the phone is in motion. (In a July 14, 2014, article, Tynan writes about apps that let parents spy on all their children's phone activities.)
So you got naked online...
Or maybe you did something else you regret. Or perhaps you're just trying to help someone else who did something online that they now regret. A U.K-based nonprofit called the South West Grid for Learning offers an online resource (pdf) intended to help minimize the damage of embarrassing or otherwise regretful online behavior.
Among the topics:
Pictures taken with your phone find their way online, whether deliberately or accidentally, so assume any picture you take could end up on the Internet.
When you share something with one person, you are potentially sharing it with everyone. You can't trust anybody.
Consider that the number of places the content could be uploaded to is innumerable -- photo-sharing sites, webcam sites, online communities, cloud storage sites, etc. The first time you share that photo or other file, the genie is out of the bottle.
Keep in mind that anyone under the age of 18 can be prosecuted for disseminating child porn. However, police will usually treat an underage person sharing an inappropriate image of themselves as a victim, particularly for the first offense.
If this (or anything else) has got you feeling anxious... We've all got more than our share of things to worry about. Of course, most of the things that keep us tossing and turning at night never come to pass, but that doesn't necessarily prevent the incessant fretting. An app for iPhones and iPads called Worry Watch lets you keep a log of your troubles so you can track their outcomes. Lifehacker's David Greenbaum writes about the app in an October 26, 2014, post.
The goal is show that your concerns were unfounded, or as Tom Petty sings in Crawling Back to You, "Most things I worry about never happen anyway." Greenbaum points out that Worry Watch shouldn't be considered a replacement for "traditional therapies" for anxiety, and you should check with any mental health professionals who are currently treating you.
And if you're thinking, "Just what I need -- another app to keep updated," maybe you should just try drinking some chamomile tea before bedtime.
Beyond anxiety: Surveillance Self-Defense Considering the capabilities of modern technology to spy on us, it isn't unreasonable to assume that somebody, somewhere, is using those tools -- and maybe to spy on you. The Electronic Frontier Foundation's Surveillance Self-Defense site provides overviews, tutorials, briefings, and "playlists" on such subjects as creating strong passwords, encrypting phones and PCs, and protecting yourself on social networks.
As Readwrite's Selena Larson explains in an October 24, 2014, article, the site's playlists are collections of tools designed specifically to protect journalism students, Mac users, human-rights workers, security pros, and security newbies. So once you're armed with an arsenal of security tools tailored to your needs, you'll have one less item on your worry list.
At least until you add worrying about whether these tools are delivering on their promise. I knew I'd start worrying about whether items are worth adding to my worry list!