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How common is sexting among children and teenagers?

Shawn Edgington
Pediatrics
Sexting is becoming more and more common every day, and it's definitely something parents need to be concerned about. Thirty-nine percent of teenagers send or post sexually suggestive messages and 48% say they have received the same type of messages. Children as young as 8 years old are getting sext requests from their classmates! What is going on, and what can we do about this? Our kids will make mistakes, but we've got to help them minimize them as much as possible, because the wrong mistake can have a terrible outcome.

There have been a couple of studies released on sexting and the commonality of sexting among teens.

The first is from the University of Utah’s Department of Psychology. Researchers surveyed 606 teens ages 14-18 and found that approximately 20 percent of the teens said they had sent a sexual image of themselves via cell phone. About twice as many teens admitted to receiving a sext. To top it off, of those who reported receiving a sext, well over 25 percent said that they had forwarded it to someone else. So, they're sharing the pics with their friends.

Sadly a third of the teens stated that they didn't think about the legal ramifications or consequences of their actions. And this may come as no surprise, teens who engaged in sexting were more likely than others to find the activity acceptable. They had "justified" their behavior to the point that they didn't view it as wrong. That's scary.
This study can be found at:
http://www.springerlink.com/content/b8657mwj0268j307/?MUD=MP

The second study was published in the Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine. Researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch found teens who "sext" may be more likely to engage in sexual behaviors. Here are some of the findings:

  • 28% of teens admitted to having sent a sext.
  • 76.2% of teens who were propositioned to sext admitted to having had sexual intercourse.
  • Girls were asked to send a sext (68%) more often than boys (42%).
  • The peak age of sexting is around 16 and 17 years of age.
  • Sexting seems to decline in individuals 18 and older.

This study can be found at:
http://archpedi.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1212181

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.