Sexting is on the rise among teens, with more than one in four, or 28 percent, admitting to having sent a naked picture of themselves via text or email, according to new US research. Plus those teens who engaged in sexting were also found to be as much as 82 percent more likely to be having sex compared to the non-sexting teens.
"It may be a reliable indicator of actual sexual behavior," says researcher Jeff R. Temple, PhD, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Texas Medical Branch Health in Galveston.
The study, which polled 948 public high school students, is published in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine. Subjects, mostly 15 and 16 years old, answered questions about their sexting and sexual habits via an online poll.
Temple found that 31 percent of the subjects said they had asked someone to send a naked picture; 57 percent said they had been asked to send a naked picture; and of those who were asked, most said the request bothered them.
Among girls, more than 77 percent of those who had sent a sext reported having had sex, compared to 42 percent of the non-sexters. Among boys, nearly 82 percent of those who had sent a sext reported having had sex, compared to 45 percent of those who didn't sext.
Plus the girls who engaged in sexting, but not the boys, were found to have a higher chance of risky sexual behavior, such as using drugs and alcohol before sex or having multiple partners.
Although Temple found no gender differences between the percentage of those who had sent a sext, the boys were more likely than the girls to ask for one. Almost 70 percent of the girls had been asked, he noted.
Another US study on teens and their sexting habits finds that nearly one in five teens have sent sexually explicit photos on their mobile phone -- many of them with little or no awareness of the possible psychological, social, and sometimes legal consequences of doing so. Those findings were published last month in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior.
In May, British officials issued a report stating that teenage girls are experiencing increasing pressure to text and email sexually explicit pictures of themselves, with many accepting it "as a fact of life." In the report, sexting was said to affect more than a third of adolescents under the age of 18.