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Teens who “Sext” are more likely to be having Sex

Update Date: Jun 30, 2014 01:53 PM EDT

"Sexting" is a relatively new behavior in which one person sends sexually explicit messages or pictures to another person. With children and teens having more access to cell phones and texting plans, researchers set out to examine the relationship between sexting and the physical act of sex in middle school students. The team from the University of Southern California (USC) found that kids who received sexts were six times more likely to report having sex.

"These findings call attention to the need to train health educators, pediatricians and parents on how best to communicate with young adolescents about sexting in relation to sexual behavior," said lead author Eric Rice, assistant professor at the USC School of Social Work reported by the press release. "The sexting conversation should occur as soon as the child acquires a cell phone."

For this study, the researchers examined interview answers from over 1,300 middle school students from Los Angeles, CA who were between the ages of 10 and 15 with an average age of 12.3. The students had participated in the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Youth Risk Behavior Survey.

The researchers reported that young teens that sent at least 100 texts per day were more than two times as likely to receive a sext and nearly 4.5 times more likely to have sent one. Teens who sent sexts specifically were four times more likely to report being sexually active. Teens who received explicit text messages were 23 times more likely to send them as well in comparison to teens that did not receive sexts. When the team looked at sexuality, they found that teens that identified themselves as LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) were nine times more likely to sext.

"Our results show that excessive, unlimited or unmonitored texting seems to enable sexting," Rice said. "Parents may wish to openly monitor their young teen's cell phone, check in with them about who they are communicating with, and perhaps restrict their number of texts allowed per month."

The study was published in Pediatrics.

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