Parent Buzz Newsletter - Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts
The Parent Buzz
A Newsletter for Parents from Let's Be Honest
April 2009 - Issue 14
In This Issue
Sign Up
Quick Links

Welcome to The Parent Buzz, an e-newsletter designed especially for parents and caregivers of middle school-aged children by Let's Be Honest, the Parent Education program of Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts.

Girls Secrets Buzz Image
As parents, we know that taking certain risks is a natural part of development for teens. However, a recent study reveals a new trend in sexual risk-taking that can have unhealthy and even dangerous implications for our youth. One in five teen girls (22%) - and 11% of teen girls ages 13-16 years old - say they have electronically sent, or posted online, nude or semi-nude images of themselves. Almost one in five teen boys (18%) say they have sent or posted nude/semi nude images of themselves. According to the results of a survey conducted by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy and, these racy images are also getting passed around: One-third (33%) of teen boys and one-quarter (25%) of teen girls say they have had nude/semi-nude images - originally meant to be private - shared with them.

Furthermore, the survey of 1,280 teens and young adults, conducted by TRU, a global leader in research on teens and young adults, indicates that 15% of teens who have sent sexually suggestive content such as text messages, email, photographs or video say they have done so with someone they only know online.

The study also reveals that what teens are doing electronically seems to have an effect on what they do in real life. Nearly one-quarter of teens (22%) admit that technology makes them personally more forward and aggressive. More than one-third (38%) say exchanging sexy content makes dating or "hooking up" with others more likely and nearly one-third of teens (29%) believe those exchanging sexy content are "expected" to date or hook up.

While being tech savy can be seen as a positive for today's teenagers, the study reveals there's also a negative side. Teenagers need to be made aware of the real consequences to this type of behavior and parents need to provide them with guidance and encourage them to make smart choices. When talking to teens about this issue, parents need to understand that their own notion of what's public, what's private, and what's appropriate, may differ greatly from how teens and young adults define these concepts.

Here are five tips from The National Campaign to help parents talk to their kids about sex and technology. (Visit, Tips for Teens for tips for your child - 5 things that kids should think about before pressing "send")

  • Talk to your kids about what they are doing in cyberspace.
Just as you need to talk openly and honestly with your kids about real life sex and relationships, you also want to discuss online and cell phone activity. Make sure your kids fully understand that messages or pictures they send over the Internet or their cell phone are not truly private or anonymous. Also make sure they know that others might forward their pictures or messages to people they do not know or want to see them, and that school administrators and employers often look at online profiles to make judgments about potential students/employees. It's essential that your kids grasp the potential short-term and long-term consequences of their actions.

  • Know who your kids are communicating with.
Of course it's a given that you want to know who your children are spending time with when they leave the house. Also do your best to learn who your kids are spending time with online and on the phone. Supervising and monitoring your kids' whereabouts in real life and cyberspace doesn't make you a nag; it's just part of your job as a parent. Many young people consider someone a "friend" even if they've only met online. What about your kids?

  • Consider limitations on electronic communication.
The days of having to talk on the phone in the kitchen in front of the whole family are long gone, but you can still limit the time your kids spend online and on the phone. Consider, for example, telling your teen to leave the phone on the kitchen counter when they're at home and to take the laptop out of their bedroom before they go to bed, so they won't be tempted to log on or talk to friends at 2 a.m.

  • Be aware of what your teens are posting publicly.
Check out your teen's MySpace, Facebook and other public online profiles from time to time. This isn't snooping - this is information your kids are making public. If everyone else can look at it, why can't you? Talk with them specifically about their own notions of what is public and what is private. Your views may differ but you won't know until you ask, listen, and discuss.

  • Set expectations.
Make sure you are clear with your teen about what you consider appropriate "electronic" behavior. Just as certain clothing is probably off-limits or certain language unacceptable in your house, make sure you let your kids know what is and is not allowed online either. And give reminders of those expectations from time to time. It doesn't mean you don't trust your kids, it just reinforces that you care about them enough to be paying attention.

Fact! Breast development is common among boys during puberty. Breast development can happen to boys during adolescence. The common condition, called gynecomastia affects 40-60% of boys. A cause for breast development may be the imbalance of hormones, testosterone and estrogen during puberty. Although the condition is typically normal and usually disappears in months or a few years with no treatment, it is always appropriate to consult the child's pediatrician with any questions or concerns.

"Turning 12: A Girl's Story" is a poignant exploration of what it means for one girl to be dealing with puberty and the changes in her life. It is a wonderful portrayal of that transition space for our youth between childhood and becoming an adolescent and all the social, emotional, and physical changes, questions and discoveries that happen. Click here for the full article.

Don't forget to visit our website for helpful tips, information about workshops, and much more. Don't miss an opportunity to be the primary sexuality educator for your children. Need help? Call our Parent Education Team at (617) 616-1658.

Your support makes The Parent Buzz and our education programs possible! Click here to donate.


Parent Education
Planned Parenthood League of MA

phone: (617) 616-1658
Email Marketing by