A new study from USC researchers published in the July 2014 issue of the journal Pediatrics, has found that among middle school students, those who reported receiving a sext were 6 times more likely to also report being sexually active.
The study anonymously sampled more than 1,300 middle school students in Los Angeles as part of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's Youth Risk Behavior Survey. Respondents ranged in age from 10-15, with an average age of 12.3 years. The researchers found that even when controlling for sexting behaviors, young teens who sent more than 100 texts a day were more likely to report being sexually active. Other key findings:
Young teens who sent sexts were almost 4 times more likely to report being sexually active.
Sending and receiving sexts went hand-in-hand: Those who reported receiving a sext were 23 times more likely to have also sent one.
Youth who texted more than 100 times a day were more than twice as likely to have received a sext and almost 4.5 times more likely to report having sent a sext.
"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. "The sexting conversation should occur as soon as the child acquires a cell phone."
"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."