Sexual Health news - Sexual Health and Behavior

Teens girls found more likely to sext than boys

With a smartphone in the hands of just about every teenager in the U.S., the world is at their fingertips, including sexually explicit messages, photos and videos of their peers. According to a new study published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, sexting may be linked to teens' sexual behavior and can give health officials some insight into the correlation.

The study focused on the sharing of nude photos. Researchers surveyed 1,000 high school students in Texas, and found that 28 percent of them had at one point sent a nude picture of themselves to a peer, 57 percent had been asked to be the subject, and 31 percent requested one of another individual.

"It appears that sexting is a modern version of 'show me yours and I'll show you mine,' but the commonness of the behavior does not condone its occurrence," said Jeff Temple, an assistant professor at the University of Texas Medical Branch. "On the contrary, we found that teens are generally bothered by being asked to send a naked picture."

Sexting photos may correlate with other risky behaviors

More than half of the girls surveyed reported being disturbed by a request to send nude photos of themselves, but generally those who partook in sexting were sexually active, as compared to girls who didn't send any. The study also found that the girls who participated more frequently in this type of communication were more likely to be involved in risky sexual behaviors, such as having multiple partners or combining sex with drug and alcohol use.

These results indicate a need for physicians, school administrators, public health officials and parents to be more aware of teenagers' activities, especially those who may be at an increased risk for sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy. Temple suggests that screening for such behaviors may open up an opportunity to discuss sex and how to have it safely.

Insights from the study support efforts to lessen legal punishment for reported sexting, which is considered child pornography if not consensual or if between a minor and an adult. Legal ramifications include community service and, in some states, having to register as a sex offender, according to the Los Angeles Times. The researchers are conducting a follow-up study to look into the psychological impact of sexting.