Study: Teens who are ‘sexting’ more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior

17 Sep

Moi wrote in What parents need to know about ‘texting’:                                     Parents must talk to their children about the appropriate use of technology.                                                                                              Jessica Citizen (Tecca) has a very parent-friendly Time article, 92 Teen Text Terms Decoded for Confused Parents:

These days, teens are texting more than ever, but the advent of QWERTY smartphone keyboards, predictive text, autocorrect, and the removal of message character limits should allow young social butterflies the opportunity to type full, real words. However, the confusing shorthand continues to live on anyway. With the help of Twitter, the microblogging site that still limits each post to a mere 140 characters, abbreviated slang appears to be here to stay.

Citizen includes a list of the most popular terms in her article.

For those who are unable or unwilling to set and observe personal boundaries, Apple just may bail you out. Alexia Tsotsis is reporting at Tech Crunch, Apple Patents Anti-Sexting Device So, for the stupid and truly clueless, looks like Apple is about to come to your rescue. Common Sense Media has some great resources for parents about teaching children how to use media responsibly. Their information about Talking About “Sexting” is excellent.

We live in a society with few personal controls and even fewer people recognize boundaries which should govern their behavior and how they treat others. Aretha Franklin had it right when girlfriend belted out, “Respect.”

In my day, we didn’t have self-esteem, we had self-respect, and no more of it than we had earned.

~Jane Haddam

Laura Mc Mullen writes in the Health Buzz article, Sexting Teens More Likely to Have Risky Sex:

Study: One in Seven Los Angeles Teens Has Sexted

Sexting is once again linked to risky sexual behavior among teens in a study released today in the journal Pediatrics. One out of every seven Los Angeles teenagers surveyed for the study has sent a sexually-explicit text or photo, the study revealed, and those “sexters” are more likely to be engaging in unsafe sex, as in unprotected or under the influence. “What we really wanted to know is, is there a link between sexting and taking risks with your body? And the answer is a pretty resounding ‘yes,'” Eric Rice, sudy author and assistant professor at the University of Southern California’s School of Social Work, told Reuters.


Sexually Explicit Cell Phone Messaging Associated With Sexual Risk Among Adolescents

  1. Eric Rice, PhDa,
  2. Harmony Rhoades, PhDa,
  3. Hailey Winetrobe, MPHa,
  4. Monica Sanchez, MAb,
  5. Jorge Montoya, PhDc,
  6. Aaron Plant, MPHc, and
  7. Timothy Kordic, MAd

+ Author Affiliations

  1. aSchool of Social Work, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California;
  2. bDepartment of Psychology, Clark University, Worcester, Massachusetts;
  3. cSentient Research, Los Angeles, California; and
  4. dLos Angeles Unified School District, Los Angeles, California
    OBJECTIVES: Sexting (sending/receiving sexually explicit texts and images via cell phone) may be associated with sexual health consequences among adolescents. However, to date, no published data from a probability-based sample has examined associations between sexting and sexual activity.
    METHODS: A probability sample of 1839 students was collected alongside the 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Survey in Los Angeles high schools. Logistic regressions were used to assess the correlates of sexting behavior and associations between sexting and sexual risk-taking.
    RESULTS: Fifteen percent of adolescents with cell phone access reported sexting, and 54% reported knowing someone who had sent a sext. Adolescents whose peers sexted were more likely to sext themselves (odds ratio [OR] = 16.87, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 9.62–29.59). Adolescents who themselves sexted were more likely to report being sexually active (OR = 7.17, 95% CI: 5.01–10.25). Nonheterosexual students were more likely to report sexting (OR = 2.74, 95% CI: 1.86–4.04), sexual activity (OR = 1.52, 95% CI: 1.07–2.15), and unprotected sex at last sexual encounter (OR = 1.84, 95% CI: 1.17–2.89).
    CONCLUSIONS: Sexting, rather than functioning as an alternative to “real world” sexual risk behavior, appears to be part of a cluster of risky sexual behaviors among adolescents. We recommend that clinicians discuss sexting as an adolescent-friendly way of engaging patients in conversations about sexual activity, prevention of sexually transmitted infections, and unwanted pregnancy. We further recommend that discussion about sexting and its associated risk behavior be included in school-based sexual health curricula.

Key Words:


CI —
confidence interval
Los Angeles Unified School District
lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning/unsure
OR —
odds ratio
STIs —
sexually transmitted infections
Youth Risk Behavior Survey
  • Accepted May 21, 2012.
  • Copyright © 2012 by the American Academy of Pediatrics

Moi wrote in Talking to your teen about risky behaviors:

Many parents want tips about how to talk with their kids about risky behaviors and whether they should spy on their children.

Perhaps the best advice comes from Carleton Kendrick in the Family Education article, Spying on Kids

Staying connected

So how do you make sure your teens are on the straight and narrow? You can’t. And don’t think you can forbid them to experiment with risky behavior. That’s what they’re good at during this stage, along with testing your limits. You can help them stay healthy, safe, and secure by doing the following:

  • Keep communicating with your teens, even if they don’t seem to be listening. Talk about topics that interest them.

  • Respect and ask their opinions.

  • Give them privacy. That doesn’t mean you can’t knock on their door when you want to talk.

  • Set limits on their behavior based on your values and principles. They will grudgingly respect you for this.

  • Continually tell them and show them you believe in who they are rather than what they accomplish.

  • Seek professional help if your teen’s abnormal behaviors last more than three weeks.

A 1997 landmark adolescent health study, which interviewed over 12,000 teenagers, concluded that the single greatest protection against high-risk teenage behavior, like substance abuse and suicide, is a strong emotional connection to a parent. Tough as it may be, you should always try to connect with them. And leave the spying to James Bond. It will only drive away the children you wish to bring closer.

In truth, a close relationship with your child will probably be more effective than spying. Put down that Blackberry, iPhone, and Droid and try connecting with your child. You should not only know who your children’s friends are, but you should know the parents of your children’s friends. Many parents have the house where all the kids hang out because they want to know what is going on with their kids. Often parents volunteer to chauffeur kids because that gives them the opportunity to listen to what kids are talking about. It is important to know the values of the families of your kid’s friends. Do they furnish liquor to underage kids, for example?  How do they feel about teen sex and is their house the place where kids meet for sex?Lisa Frederiksen has written the excellent article, 10 Tips for Talking to Teens About Sex, Drugs & Alcohol  which was posted at the Partnership for A Drug-Free America

So, in answer to the question should you spy on your Kids? Depends on the child. Some children are more susceptible to peer pressure and impulsive behavior than others. They will require more and possibly more intrusive direction. Others really are free range children and have the resources and judgment to make good decisions in a variety of circumstances. Even within a family there will be different needs and abilities. The difficulty for parents is to make the appropriate judgments and still give each child the feeling that they have been treated fairly. Still, for some kids, it is not out of line for parents to be snoops, they just might save the child and themselves a lot of heartache.


Sexting Information: What every parent should know about sexting.                                                                                                                           

Social Networking and Internet Safety Information for Parents: Sexting                                                                                                                           

Teen Sexting Tips                                                                       


New study about ‘sexting’ and teens              

Sexting’ during school hours                                                 

CDC report: Contraceptive use among teens                   

Title IX also mandates access to education for pregnant students                                                           

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

One Response to “Study: Teens who are ‘sexting’ more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior”


  1. Common Sense Media report: Media choices at home affect school performance « drwilda - November 1, 2012

    […] Study: Teens who are ‘sexting’ more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior                                                                 … […]

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