It’s called sexting, the act of sending and/or receiving sexually explicit text or photo messages via your mobile phone.
And one in five middle school-aged students are doing it, according to a new study published in the medical journal Pediatrics.
Among the 1,285 Los Angeles students aged 10 to 15 surveyed for the study, 20% reported having received at least one sext, while 5% reported having sent at least one sext.
“Very frequently it’s the image or the sex, that is finding its way to the middle schooler first, prior to any sort of conversation or education” by parents, said Ian Kerner, a sexuality counselor and father to two boys. “That makes it even more confusing (for kids).”
The study authors also looked at how sexting relates to sexual behavior among these adolescents.
The survey showed that those who reported receiving a sext, were six times more likely to report being sexually active than teens that hadn’t received a sext. Those who sent a sext were about 4 times more likely to report being sexually active.
The researchers also found that those who sext were more likely to report having unprotected sex.
While the study does not offer an explanation for the link — Are sexting teens simply more likely to admit to their sexual activity? Does sexual activity lead to sexting or vice versa? — the authors do elaborate on the relationship between sexting and sexual behaviors.