In a new study published in the journal Pediatrics, researchers found that Los Angeles high school students who sent sexually-explicit texts or photos were seven times more likely to report being sexually active, than those who claimed they’d never sexted, according to the findings.
“What we really wanted to know is, is there a link between sexting and taking risks with your body? And the answer is a pretty resounding ‘yes,’ ” Eric Rice, study author and Assistant Professor at the University of Southern California’s School of Social Work, told Reuters.
Some researchers had previously been convinced that adolescents might be “sexting” as a safer alternative for sex in their lives — but that’s just not the case according to Eric Rice, PhD. In fact, nonheterosexual students were more likely to report sexting, sexual activity and unprotected sex as their last sexual encounter, according to the research.
The study focused on self-reported behaviors from more than 1,800 Los Angeles high-schoolers between the ages of 12 and 18, most of whom were Latino. Rice believes if teens talk about their friends’ sexting, there’s a good chance they’re doing it too.
“This is a behavior that a minority of adolescents are engaging in, but that minority is engaging in a group of risky sexual behaviors… not just sexting.”
Rice recommends that parents and teachers use the latest celebrity sex scandals in the media to start discussions with teens about sexting and as a bridge to open dialogue about sexual activity. Especially when teens may be putting themselves into high risk situations.
“Sexting might be an easier conversation for teachers to start having with teens than a full-on conversation that starts, ‘Let’s talk about sex,’ ” Rice added.