Teens and tweens who sext are more likely to be having sex

Harold Mandel's picture
A young girl smiling from what may be a sext
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The Internet era has changed the way we live our lives and communicate with each other. The Internet also appears to be having a dramatic effect on human sexual behavior. It is not surprising that teens and tweens often get involved with sexting. This has raised questions about whether or not this is influencing the actual sexual behavior of our youth. Recent research shows that teens and tweens who sext are more likely to be having sex.

Sexting deals with texting of sexually explicit material

Sexting is the sending or receiving sexually explicit cell phone text or picture messages. It has not been clear if sexting is associated with sexual activity and sexual risk behavior among early adolescents, as has been observed for high school students reported the journal Pediatrics. Up to the time of this research there was not any published data which examined these relationships exclusively among a probability sample of students in middle school.

Researchers collected a probability sample of 1285 students alongside the 2012 Youth Risk Behavior Survey in Los Angeles middle schools. The researchers assessed the correlates of sexting behavior and associations which were found to exist between sexting and sexual activity and risk behavior or unprotected sex. There were reports of receiving a sext among twenty percent of students with text-capable cell phone access. Five percent of the students reported sending a sext.

Students who received and sent sexts were more sexually active

It was observed that students who text at least 100 times daily were more likely to report both receiving and sending sexts. The students who sent sexts and students who received sexts were more likely to report being sexually active. It was also observed that excessive texting and receiving sexts were both associated with both unprotected sex and with condom use.

Early sexual activity is associated with higher rates of sexually transmitted infections and teen pregnancies

Due to the fact that early sexual activity is associated with higher rates of sexually transmitted infections and teen pregnancies it is clear pediatricians should discuss sexting with young adolescents. Such discussions should facilitate conversations which deal with sexually transmitted infection and pregnancy prevention. Furthermore, it is suggested that sexting and associated risks should be placed under consideration to be included in middle school sex education curricula.

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There is a new understanding of the relationship between sexting and sexual behavior

The researchers found that tweens and teens who receive sexts are 6 times more likely to report sexual activity reports the University of Southern California. This study from University of Southern California researchers has opened up new horizons in understanding the relationship which exists between sexting and sexual behavior in early adolescence. This raises new considerations about whether sexually explicit text messaging is actually a risk behavior or whether it is simply a technologically-enabled extension of normal teenage manners of flirting.

Lead author Eric Rice, an assistant professor at the USC School of Social Work, has said these findings have brought attention to the need to train health educators, pediatricians and parents on how to most effectively communicate with young adolescents about sexting and how this is associated with sexual behavior. Rice, thinks the conversation about sexting should begin as soon as the child acquires a cell phone.

The respondents in this study ranged in age from 10-15, with an average age of 12.3 years.
Aside from the finding that young teens who sent more than 100 texts a day were more likely to report both receiving and sending sexts there were other findings which included:

1: Young teens who sent sexts were about 4 times more likely to report being sexually active

2: Sending and receiving sexts went hand-in-hand: Those young students who reported receiving
a sext were 23 times more likely to have also sent one

3: Students identified as LGBTQ were found to be 9 times more likely to have sent a sext

The finding of a dramatic association between students who sent sexts and reported sexual activity has indicated the need for further research. As also pointed out by the researchers this all raises new considerations about the relationship between the use of technology and sexual behavior among early adolescents. Clearly more aggressive education and counseling of our kids dealing with the possible dangers of risky sexual behavior is essential in this high tech era to protect our kids. The lessons which we teach our kids about sex at a young age are likely to influence how they choose to deal with sexual issues for the remainder of their lives.

Photo courtesy of amfroey/Freedigitalphotos.net

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