Young teens share partial or full-naked pictures of themselves sent via text, message or Snapchat, a messaging application where users share content for up to 10 seconds before it disappears. – Latest teen Snapchat trend: “Nudes”

As a mother of two teens and a Psychotherapist who has treated adolescents for more than a decade, I can safely say that no individual teen behavior shocks me anymore.

By the same token, I am growing more concerned about teen peer pressure that is driving large numbers of adolescents to make poor choices on social media, which impacts their reputations, their psychological well-being as well as their future lives.

The latest trend among our youth is to send out “nudes”. A “nude” is a partial or full naked picture sent via text, private or direct message, or Snapchat. According to many of my teen clients, “all the kids are doing it”. I have researched this topic by calling every colleague I know who works with teens. Sadly, I learned that “nudes” are the norm. Sadly, I know that mostly young girls often send these pictures, without being asked for one. Sadly, people take screen shots of these pictures and post them on public sites. Many kids believe Snapchat protects them from screen shots because the Snapchat app alerts the user if someone takes a picture of their picture. Not true! Now there is another app to get around that. The new app allows users to take Snapchat screen shots anonymously – without alerting the original sender that this has happened. And sadly, young girls (and boys) are losing their abilities to learn how to value their bodies.

What can you do? Awareness and education are always important, which is why I am writing this piece. Parents must have the tough conversations. Parents MUST monitor their kids’ phones, iPads, computers, etc. Phones are not a right; they are a privilege! They are not like a child’s diary where we respect privacy. A notebook and pen are VERY different from full access to technology. Kids navigate their way through social pressures 24/7. When we were kids, we could turn off most social pressures once the school day was over. Our children never have a break! Our children are constantly exposed to seeing plans they haven’t been invited to (I can’t count how many teen girls have been on my couch in tears about this one), peer rating systems about appearance, cyber-bullying, potentially unsafe contact with strangers, sites to anonymously send and/or receive questions about absolutely anything, and topics they don’t have the brain capacity to understand yet. Some people think the solution is to make technology off limits to our kids. I do not believe this is realistic. Technology is here to stay. We have to learn to deal with it. There are too many ways teenagers can access technology. It’s almost impossible to consistently enforce your child’s abstinence from technology.