Intelligent Sex Texting – Almost an oxymoron

“Intelligent sex texting” – it’s almost an oxymoron.

At least when it comes to about 30 percent of teens, according to a new report in the Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine, a JAMA Nework publication.

Sexting – the electronically sending sexually explicit images or messages from one person to another – is so popular that it may constitute one of many “Not My Child” parents’ worst nightmares.

Researcher Jeff R. Temple, PhD of the University of Texas Medical Branch and his colleagues studied 948 students aged 14 to 19 years old (55.9 percent female) at seven public high schools and considered the association between sexting and sexual behaviors. Participants self-reported their history of dating, sexual behaviors and sexting. The assessed teen sexting with four questions: have they ever sent naked pictures of themselves through text or email, have they ever asked someone to send them a naked picture, have they been asked to send naked pictures of themselves to someone, and, if so, how bothered were they by the request.

Specifically, more than 1 in 4 adolescents have sent a nude picture of themselves through electronic means, about half have been asked to send a nude picture, and about a third have asked for a nude picture to be sent to them,” reported the authors. “Boys were more likely to ask and girls were more likely to have been asked for a sext.” In addition, white/non-Hispanic and African American teens were more likely than the other racial/ethnic groups to have been asked and to have sent a sext.

Of note, the research found that for both boys and girls, teens who sexted were more likely to have begun dating and to have had sex than those who did not sext.

“Given its prevalence and link to sexual behavior, pediatricians and other tween-focused and teen-focused health care providers may consider screening for sexting behaviors. Asking about sexting could provide insight into whether a teen is likely engaging in other sexual behaviors (for boys and girls) or risky sexual behaviors (for girls),” the authors noted.

Francis J. (Skip) Flynn, Psy. D.

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