A study published in JAMA Pediatrics on February 26, addressed – as its name depicts – the ‘Prevalence of Multiple Forms of Sexting Behavior Among Youth.’ Among the total of messages, the research found that teens send and receive texts with sexual material about 15% and 27% of the times, respectively.

It is a significant finding, according to the project, as it keeps increasing as an active practice among the youth. It has potential consequences that we could avoid if they were addressed as a component of sex education.

The key to this study, the team explains, is that sexting portrays itself as a response to sexual behavior, which could lead to some health outcomes linked to risky practices. Nevertheless, as the lack of a global consensus is still missing, we need more advanced studies for further intervention and policy development.

Why do teenagers sext?

The team of researchers addressed a tip sheet for parents in their study, considering some of them do not know how to manage the issue or even begin to understand it.

Sexting among teenagers, Adolescents sending and receiving photos with sexual material
Sexting is a common practice among teenagers. Image credit: Getty

“Adolescence is a time of life in which teenagers are learning about their own bodies, how to take risks, and about romantic attractions. For some teenagers, engaging in sexting may feel like a way to explore their attraction to someone,” the study reads

However, the concern arises when the risks start to show up, which – according to the study – could be emotional distress for those who send the photos, as well as those who receive them. Additionally, a ‘leaked’ photo could cause a higher level of stress and embarrassment to the adolescent.

Sexting could even lead to legal repercussions. However, only a few courts decide to act on it currently. Many teenagers send and receive nude-photos every day. Labeling somebody as a sex-offender after sending a half-nude picture of its partner could, among many others, destroy its reputation. In the end, this behavior is presented in a great number of teens – and adults, too.

Does it have a positive impact? Parents worry

Sexting among teenagers, Adolescents sending and receiving photos with sexual material
Sharing the pictures without permission is one of the many consequences. Image credit: Getty

Researchers explained:

“In a few studies, researchers noted that most people who sext felt positively about the experience and that positive outcomes seem to be associated with sexting within established relationships. Other studies examining outcomes such as harassment or bullying by peers, lost opportunities, trouble with parents or school authorities or having the picture posted online found such outcomes to be unusual. Most were endorsed by less than 5% of people who sext,” the researchers said.

Nonconsensual sexting and sharing the message or picture of the sexter without permission are the bigger issues. However, the study advises that parents should not make drastic moves. Instead, they should sensibly talk to their kids to keep perspective and consider the actual risks the teen is taking. They must not overreact to the situation.

Source: JAMA Pediatrics