The "sex talk" is one conversation few parents look forward to having with their children. If describing the "birds and the bees" wasn't awkward enough for modern parents, this conversation has only become more difficult with the appearance and prominence of the internet. Apart from the many foolish mistakes young people are inclined to make in their pubescent years, there are many more dangers they should be shielded from, especially on the internet.
The first such topic of interest is pornography. While it is a generally accepted thing amongst adults, young kids and teens should not be exposed to such inappropriate content, and should be prepared if they ever do come across it. Most parents will try to block any access their kids may have to inappropriate materials, installing filters and monitoring their online activity, but this is essentially an unrealistic goal, because kids will always look for ways to bypass limitations and explore the web on devices you have no control over. The best way to protect your children from the harmful influence of pornography (besides censoring it) is to talk about its negative effects with children. Teens should understand that pornography is not an accurate representation of life situations, that it does not reflect realistic or healthy relationships between people, and that it is a fantasy that they should not take seriously.
Another big danger for young people on the internet is sexting. Sexting is considered to be a naughty and fun practice by thousands of teens all over the world, but few of them acknowledge the risks they take when they engage in this behavior, as well as the possible repercussions. Sending naked pictures may seem harmless and fulfilling at the time, but these photographs often get into wrong hands or are distributed without the awareness or consent of a participant. This opens up a whole new can of worms, exposing the person's private life to countless web users, which causes that person to experience much stress and humiliation. There is no foolproof way to protect private photos from being distributed, and young people need to understand this.
Finally, it is also important to mention online stalking and harassment. It's no secret that most social networks give users free reign in filling out their profiles, making it extremely easy to pose as someone you're not. While most users adhere to the norms of online etiquette, there will always be creeps and predators that harass and stalk children. Warning young people of the dangers of online predators will give them the "tools" they need to fend off such predators or avoid them altogether. There are thousands of cases involving teens and kids who were sexually harassed, exploited, stalked and otherwise provoked through the internet, and few of those cases ended well.
All of the behaviors listed above can have a terrible influence on a child's sexual identity and body image, so it's up to adults – their guardians and protectors to shield them from this influence or teach them how to avoid it.