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Younger teens who sext are more likely to engage in other sexual behaviors, according to a newly published study.
Sexting, or sending out sexually explicit text messages, has been shown to predict sexual behavior in older teens in other studies.
Now researchers from the Hasbro Children’s Research Center and the Rhode Island Hospital have found adolescents engaging in sexting are more likely to engage in additional sexual behaviors. These included kissing, oral sex and intercourse.
Seventh-graders were interviewed for the research, with certain participants classified as “at-risk” based on their availability to a text-ready phone and certain social situations.
One in five at-risk participants were found to either be sending or receiving sexts. A quarter of those were found to exchange photos along with the text.
Those in the group who sexted were found to be seven times more likely to engage in some additional sexual behavior. Those who sent photos were found the most likely to engage.
“Those who sexted were more likely to
engage in additional sexual behavior.”
“Although any sexting appeared to be a marker for sexual risk,” the study concluded, “sending photos was associated with even greater likelihood of early sexual activity.”
More than 400 young people participated in the study, each between the ages of 12 and 14. They were asked about their experiences for the six month period prior to the research.
Several direct questions called for a simple yes or no response, such as “In the last six months, have you texted someone a sexual message to flirt with them?”
Those who sexted in the group were found to have a higher level of intent to engage in sex acts compared against non-texting counterparts.
Likewise, they were more likely to believe their friends and family members would approve of the behavior.
The team behind the research, headed by Christopher D. Houck, recommends parents and professionals pay closer attention to the electronic communications of teens and recognize it as a potential marker for risky behavior.
The report was published in the journal Pediatrics: bignewsnetwork.com.