(GALVESTON, Texas) — Nearly 30 percent of high school students have sent sexually explicit messages via their cellphones, according to a new study published in the journal Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. The latest finding marks a rise over previous studies.
Researchers from the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston surveyed seven Texas high schools and found that 28 percent of nearly 1,000 students had sent a sext, and 31 percent had requested one from someone else. More than half of the students surveyed had been asked for a nude photo.
Most teens surveyed said they were at least somewhat bothered when asked for a sext. Twenty-seven percent of girls reportedly felt very bothered by the invitations versus 3 percent of boys.
Kids who sexted were more likely to be having sex, and girls who sexted were more likely to participate in risky sexual behavior, including having multiple sexual partners and using drugs or alcohol before sex, the survey found.
“Sexting may be a fairly reliable indicator of sexual behaviors,” said Jeff R. Temple, lead author of the study and assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at University of Texas at Medical Branch.
Temple did emphasize that sexting is not necessarily a cause or a consequence of risky sex, but just an associated behavior.
“Relative to sex, sexting may be a less tension-filled or scary topic to bring up with teens, and thus could provide an opportunity to discuss sexual behaviors and safe sex,” he said.
The researchers suggested that pediatricians consider screening for sexting behaviors as an opportunity to talk about safe sex. Parents should also talk to their children about sexting, as it may be a good transition into a talk about sex in general.
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