Youth Sexting and Mental Health


youth sexting and mental health

According to a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association, a surprisingly substantial number of high school students have sexted. Sexting is the act of sending sexually provocative text messages or images between mobile phones.

The study also found that students who sext are more likely to be suffering from emotional distress. 23,187 students in the Boston area took part in the survey.

According to the website DoctorsLounge, “The investigators found that, in the previous year, 25.1 percent of the participants received, and 10.4 percent sent, forwarded, or posted a sext message. Five percent of the participants reported being a victim of sexting. Female students were less likely than males to receive a sext message (19.1 versus 31.1 percent). However, both groups were similarly likely to send a sext message or be a sexting victim.”

Other significant finding from the survey:

  • Young people who did not self-identify as heterosexual were more likely to sext.
  • Respondents who sexted in the past year were twice as likely to have suffered from depression.
  • 13 percent of teens involved in sexting reported a suicide attempt in the last year, as compared with 3 percent of non-sexting teens.

Internet safety advocate Marian Merritt encourages parents to treat their child’s cell phone as they would a computer. She says mobile phones should be secured, protected and come with parental restrictions and rules. “If that phone is a smart phone, password protect it,” she says. “It could prevent your child getting victimized.”

Parents concerned about their child’s online privacy and safety would do well to heed this advice. After all, mobile phones can potentially expose kids to precisely the same online dangers as computers. And that’s nothing to take lightly.


Talk To Us! When it comes to kids and cell phones, how old is old enough?


Image: Kid Proof