How risky is sexting for your pre-teen?
Should sexually explicit text messaging be considered a risky behavior for teens or just an extension of normal teenage flirting? Researchers at the University of Southern California investigated and found that among middle school students, those who reported receiving a sext were six times more likely to also report being sexually active. This latest research also found that young teens who sent more than 100 texts per day were more likely to report being sexually active.
“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 relations to sexual behavior,” says study author Eric Rice. “The sexting conversation should occur as soon as the child acquires a cell phone.”
- Learn about your child’s understanding of what sexting is.
- Use examples appropriate for your child’s age.
- Make sure that children understand that sexting is serious and considered a crime in many areas.
- Monitor headlines and the news for stories about “sexting” that illustrate the very real consequences for both senders and receivers.
The study reviewed responses from 1,300 middle school students in Los Angeles to 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.
“As parents and as a community, we need to continue to educate teens about the potential negative consequences of sharing intimate pictures of themselves with others,” says Dr. Bobbi Viegas-Miller, a licensed clinical psychologist with Advocate Medical Group in Park Ridge, Ill.
“Parents can consider taking away or limiting access to technology at parties or slumber parties where tweens/teens may experience more peer pressure to sext, and educate parents on how to monitor and talk to their kids about technology.”
About the Author
Lynn Hutley, health enews contributor, is coordinator of public affairs and marketing at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center and Advocate Eureka Hospital in central Illinois. Having grown up in a family-owned drug store, it is no surprise that Lynn has spent almost 18 years working in the health care industry. She has a degree in human resources management from Illinois State University and is always ready to tackle Trivia Night.