What was not-so-long-ago considered a fad passing through teenage and adult social circles alike, is now edging closer to becoming a mere social norm. According to a new study published in Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine by researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch, sexting amongst teenagers is occurring much more often than what is being perceived.
“Under most existing laws, if our findings were extrapolated nationally, several million teens could be prosecuted for child pornography,” the report reads.
The study, which surveyed 1,000 students between the ages of 14 and 19, found that 28% of teenagers in the US have sent fully-nude photographs of themselves. 31% surveyed said they had asked at least one other person to send them a nude photograph. 77% of girls and 82% of boys who have sent sexts are not virgins. Most girls that were asked to send a sext were “bothered,” while very few boys had the same reaction.
“The main takeaway message is that [sexting] may be an indicator of actual sexual behavior. If a conversation about sexting can act as a springboard for about talking about sex and safe sex, then it is a good point of the study,” said Dr. Jeff Temple, lead author of the study. “I think the more we talk about sex with our kids, the better.”
The commonality of sexting begs the question — if the act of sending explicit photographs will soon become so normal that finding a naked picture of friends and coworkers will be less jarring and have more and more people saying, “Oh yeah, I’ve done that before.’” Of course, this scenario is entirely possible.
Just as it is important to have the ‘safe sex’ talk, it is vital that parents talks to their kids about the presence of their mobile phones and cameras in their relationships with others, especially if that relationship is a romantic or sexual one. It is an age old story of teenagers looking for ways to express their sexuality, but doing so through technology is much more permanent than wearing certain items of clothing.
If all else fails, remind your kids that a simple message can land them on a sex-offender’s list (depending on what country and state you live in).
Image Source: Nerve