A three-year study into the sexting habits of teens has found that the practice is as prevalent as ever, and that has some interesting implications on the teens’ actual sexual activity – especially for girls.
The study “Teen Sexting and Its Association With Sexual Behaviors,” published in July’s issue of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, looked at close to 1000 14 to 19-year-olds across seven public high schools in Texas. Researchers found that 28% of the teens said that they have sent a nude picture of themselves via text or email. Moreover, 57% said that they have been asked to send nude photos.
When it comes to sending sexts, there wasn’t much of a statistical difference between boys and girls. But when it came to how those sexting practices affected their other sexual decisions, there was a gender discrepancy:
Moreover, teen girls who engaged in sexting behaviors also had a higher prevalence of risky sex behaviors, including multiple partners and using drugs or alcohol before sex. Thus, among girls, the use of sexting behaviors appears to coincide with much higher engagement in risky sex behaviors.
But the same wasn’t exactly true for teen guys:
The same is not true for boys, for whom only having been asked for a sext was related to risky sex behaviors. It is possible that sexting, like actual sexual behaviors, is perceived more permissively and positively for boys, and thus not considered a risky behavior and therefore less likely to be associated with other risky behaviors.
Girls also reported being “bothered” by requests for nude pics more than boys – by a margin of 27% to 3%. It appears that most teenage boys either don’t mind or actually like receiving such a request.
There was also a racial difference in who was sending and receiving sexts – Whites and African Americans were more likely that Hispanics and Asians.
It’s clear that sexting is a fairly common practice among today’s youth. Although many would adopt the “kids will by kids” argument and might feel as though it’s not really a big deal, opponents could cite another recent survey that linked teen sexting to depression and other forms of psychological distress.
For parents, whether or not they think sexting is a big deal, it’s obvious that it’s common enough now to require it make an appearance in any talks that they have with their teens about sex.[via Mashable]