"Parents may not be protecting their kids as much as they can on their mobile phones," Davis said.
"For usually $5 per month, cell phone carriers can block the transmission of images for specific phone lines," he said. "Parents and other relatives thinking about getting a cell phone for a preteen or teen as a gift should think about adding image-blocking safeguards to calling plans."
But image-blocking strategies won't deal with text content, Davis noted. "Parents should establish rules and expectations with their teens and preteens in order to guard against sexting," he said.
Dr. Eugene R. Hershorin, chief of general pediatrics and medical director of the Behavioral Pediatrics Clinic at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, said that "pediatricians have known this has been going on for a long time."
Parental monitoring is vital, he said. But parents not only need to be aware of the risks, "they need to be talking to their children about the risks," Hershorin said.
"Kids are doing this without seeing the consequences of their actions," he added. "There need to be rules set by parents, and consequences established."
For more information on sexting, visit ConnectSafely.org.
SOURCES: Matthew Davis, M.D., associate professor, general pediatrics and internal medicine, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, Mich.; Eugene R. Hershorin, M.D., chief, division of general pediatrics, and medical director, Behavioral Pediatrics Clinic, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami; Dec. 25, 2009, C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health
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