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Good Parental Connection Discourages Teen Sexting

Update Date: Jan 24, 2014 02:17 PM EST

Teen sexting, which is the practice of sending explicit messages or pictures to others, is becoming a relatively popular trend. Even though sexting could be helpful for adults in long-distance relationships, teenage sexting has been tied to social pressures. In a new study, a University of Michigan researcher, Scott Campbell reported that adolescents that have good parental connection are less likely to sext.

"The findings suggest that explicit restriction is not effective," said Campbell according to Medical Xpress. "Teens are testing the boundaries of what is acceptable."

For this study, Campbell, who is an associate professor of communications studies and the Pohs professor of telecommunications, worked with associate professor from Howard University, Yong Jin Park. The researchers examined the effects of enforcing heavy-handed supervision of children's cell phone use on sexting. They recruited 552 teenagers between 12 and 17-years-old and collected information on their cell phone use.

The researchers found that older teenagers were more likely to sext than younger teenagers. However, if younger teenagers had to pay for their own phone service, the researchers found that they would receive more sexts. The researchers also found that white teens were less likely to receive a sext in comparison to nonwhite teens. The team reported that text messaging was tied to an increased risk of receiving a sext but not sending one. Furthermore, adolescents who were heavy texters were more likely to be exposed to sexual images via text.

"It is plausible that intensive texting leads to contact with a broader array of characters, making it more likely that the user will encounter a member of the small subset of teens who distribute these types of messages, thereby increasing their chance of receiving a sext unintentionally," Campbell said."On the other hand, it may be that heavy texters are more likely to actively solicit these images from others because they have become accustomed to this channel as a safe venue for intimate exchanges."

The researchers stated that if parents wanted to reduce the chances of sexting, restriction or supervision over children's cell phones might not be an effective method. Instead, parents and other family members should try to incorporate themselves into the teenagers' daily flow of messages. Parents should also consider paying for their children's phone service.

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