In the past, research has linked sexting with sexual behaviour in high-school students and young adults. New research claims sexually explicit texts can have just as strong an impact on young teens too.
The University of Southern California’s research team found that middle-school students (those aged 12 to 15) who received a sext were six times more likely to be sexually active.
“These findings call attention to the need to train health educators, paediatricians, and parents on how best to communicate with young adolescents about sexting in relation to sexual behaviour,” lead research Eric Rice said.
“The sexting conversation should occur as soon as the child acquires a cell phone.” Rice’s advice comes after previous studies proved the link between early sexual debut and risk-taking sexual behaviour – such as teen pregnancy, sex under the influence of drugs or alcohol and the transmission of STIs.
1,300 students were sampled, and the results showed that those who sent more than 100 texts a day (seriously, who has time for that?!) were twice as likely to have received a sext, and 4.5 more likely to send one.
LGBTQ students were nine times more likely to have sent a sext, but weren’t necessarily more likely to be sexually active.
“Our results show that excessive, unlimited, or unmonitored texting seems to enable sexting,” adds Rice. “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.”