'Sexting' may go hand-in-hand with unprotected sex among teens

September 17, 2012 by Maureen Salamon, Healthday Reporter
'Sexting' may go hand-in-hand with unprotected sex among teens
Study found association with other forms of sexual risk-taking among high school students.

(HealthDay)—Teens who "sext" sexually explicit texts or images are probably taking other sexual risks as well, with new research indicating these adolescents are seven times more likely to be sexually active and significantly more apt to be having unprotected sex.

Analyzing self-reported behaviors of more than 1,800 Los Angeles students aged 12 to 18 (most were between 14 and 17), researchers found that 15 percent with cell phones acknowledged sexting and 54 percent knew someone who had sent a sext. Rarely was sexting the only sexually risky behavior involved.

"It's surprising in some ways that sexting isn't an alternative to , it's part of the [same] landscape," said study author Eric Rice, an assistant professor in the School of Social Work at the University of Southern California. "I don't want to be alarmist, but I do think that parents who suspect their kids are sexting should be aware of the probability their kids are involved in other as well. They probably should worry insofar as it's likely their teens are sexually active and not using ."

The study is published online Sept. 17 and in the October print issue of the journal Pediatrics.

Previous studies on sexting indicated similar rates of participation among teenagers, but the new research is purportedly the first to examine any association between sexting and .

Participants were mostly Latino/Hispanic, 87 percent identified as straight and nearly three-quarters reported owning a cell phone and using it every day.

Youths whose friends sexted were 17 times more likely to sext themselves—viewing it as a "normal" behavior—and non-heterosexual students were more than twice as likely to report sexting than their .

"The students we talk to said texting has been associated with an existing or interest, so I think it makes sense that these kinds of behaviors are happening, for the most part, within an existing and not something out of the blue," said Justin Patchin, co-director of the Cyberbullying Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. He was not involved in the study.

Patchin and Rice agreed the findings are an opportunity for parents to broach the subject with children and discuss the consequences. If they find out their own kids are sexting, they may want to measure the individual circumstances before deciding how to react, said Patchin, also an associate professor of criminal justice.

"It's one thing if it's your 17-year-old who's been in a committed relationship with a person for a long time . . . vs. a 13-year-old sending inappropriate pictures to a person they're interested and who they've never had a relationship with," he said.

"I certainly don't want to condone sexting among any teenager, but we need to understand the continuum of relationships and behaviors," Patchin added. "The main thing is that parents need to educate kids and talk about consequences—[such as] that they can never be sure someone else won't see those images or texts."

Shari Kessel Schneider, a senior research associate at the Education Development Center in Newton, Mass., said the findings also highlight a need for physicians and educators to "be aware that youth who are sexting may need additional education and guidance related to adolescent sexuality and safe and responsible Internet use."

"While some have suggested that sexting may be a safe alternative to sexual , it is not surprising that these online behaviors are entangled in teens' face-to-face interactions," said Schneider, who led a study on sexting and depression among Boston-area youth. "If a parent finds out their child is sexting, it's an important opportunity to engage their son or daughter in a discussion of what constitutes a healthy relationship and how youth can stay safe both emotionally and physically."

The study revealed an association between teen sexting and other sexual behaviors. It did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

Explore further: 'Sexting' may be just a normal part of dating for Internet generation

More information: The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation has information about sexting.

Abstract
Full Text (subscription or payment may be required)


Related Stories

'Sexting' may be just a normal part of dating for Internet generation

July 24, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- For young adults today who were weaned on iPods and the Internet, the practice of "sexting," or sending sexually explicit photos or messages through phones, may be just another normal, healthy component ...

Sending sexually explicit photos by cell phone -- more common among teens than you might think

June 13, 2012
A significant number of teenagers are sending and receiving sexually explicit cell phone photos, often with little, if any, awareness of the possible psychological, interpersonal, and sometimes legal consequences of doing ...

Nearly 30 percent of teens involved in sexting despite being 'bothered' by requests: study

July 2, 2012
Teens are sexting -- and at higher rates than previously reported. In the first study of the public health impact of teen sexting, researchers found that close to 30 percent are engaging in the practice of sending nude pictures ...

Concerns about teen sexting overblown, according to new research

December 5, 2011
Two new studies from the University of New Hampshire Crimes against Children Research Center suggest that concerns about teen sexting may be overblown. One study found the percentage of youth who send nude pictures of themselves ...

Let your fingers do the talking: Sexting and infidelity in cyberspace

June 20, 2011
Although sex and infidelity are now only a keyboard away, at the end of the day, there is no substitute for physical, face-to-face contact in our sexual relationships. That's according to a new study by Diane Kholos Wysocki, ...

Recommended for you

Molecules in spit may be able to diagnose and predict length of concussions

November 20, 2017
Diagnosing a concussion can sometimes be a guessing game, but clues taken from small molecules in saliva may be able to help diagnose and predict the duration of concussions in children, according to Penn State College of ...

Breastfed babies are less likely to have eczema as teenagers, study shows

November 13, 2017
Babies whose mothers had received support to breastfeed exclusively for a sustained period from birth have a 54% lower risk of eczema at the age of 16, a new study led by researchers from King's College London, Harvard University, ...

Obesity during pregnancy may lead directly to fetal overgrowth, study suggests

November 13, 2017
Obesity during pregnancy—independent of its health consequences such as diabetes—may account for the higher risk of giving birth to an atypically large infant, according to researchers at the National Institutes of Health. ...

Working to reduce brain injury in newborns

November 10, 2017
Research-clinicians at Children's National Health System led the first study to identify a promising treatment to reduce or prevent brain injury in newborns who have suffered hypoxia-ischemia, a serious complication in which ...

Why do some kids die under dental anesthesia?

November 9, 2017
Anesthesiologists call for more research into child deaths caused by dental anesthesia in an article published online by the journal Pediatrics.

Probability calculations—even babies can master it

November 3, 2017
One important feature of the brain is its ability to make generalisations based on sparse data. By learning regularities in our environment it can manage to guide our actions. As adults, we have therefore a vague understanding ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.