Is "sexting" a gateway to risky sexual behavior?
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Sexually transmitted disease (STD) rates are particularly high among people between the ages of 15 and 24, causing parents, teachers and health officials to wonder what factors are influencing these young people to engage in risky sexual behavior. A recent study published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine recently shed some light on sexual behavior in teens. Researchers found that "sexting" - sending sexually charged text messages and images to people's phones - may be prevalent among teens, and it may lead to risky sexual behavior.
Scientists asked teens if they had ever sent naked pictures of themselves through text or email and if they had ever asked someone to send similar pictures. Furthermore, they also asked if they were bothered by requests for these images. The researchers discovered that many teens have been exposed to this kind of behavior.
"Specifically, more than one in four adolescents have sent a nude picture of themselves through electronic means, about half have been asked to send a nude picture, and about a third have asked for a nude picture to be sent to them. Boys were more likely to ask and girls more likely to have been asked for a sext," the study authors wrote in their report.
Furthermore, the researchers found that teens who had sexted were more likely to have begun dating and to have had sex than those who did not sext. As a result of these findings, the scientists suggested that pediatricians and other healthcare providers should screen teens to determine if they have sexted. This behavior may be a warning that they are planning on, or already have engaged in sexual activity and may need counseling on safer sex and STD prevention.
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