Has digital technology made kids safer? Mobile phones mean that kids can call their parents anytime from nearly anywhere, but they also allow that kind of 24/7 connection with other kids. It’s fair to ask whether cell phones have helped adolescents take normal flirtatious behavior to a dangerous level. A new study has found that youngsters who engage in sexting (texting provocative messages or self-images) are several times more likely to also be sexually active. The more texting a child does, the more apt they are to send or receive sexts.
Early Exposure Related To Risky Behavior
Past research among teens and young adults has uncovered a link between sexual exposure and experimentation at a young age and later high-risk sexual behavior. Kids with early sexual activity are more prone to engage in sex while high or intoxicated, more likely to face teenage pregnancy, more often infected with sexually transmitted disease and more likely to be forced into a sexual act.
More Texting Equals Sexting
A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-sponsored survey shows that excessive use of cell phones among younger adolescents increases the likelihood of sexting and of becoming sexually active. The Youth Risk Behavior Survey was given to 1,300 Los Angeles area middle school kids who were asked to report anonymously on their texting and sexual behavior. The kids who took the survey were 10 to 15 years old, with an average age of just over 12.
The survey found that:
- Those who sent 100 or more texts per day were the most likely to be sexually active.
- Being involved with sexting led to a four times greater likelihood of sexual activity.
- Sending 100 or more daily texts doubled a kid’s chances of getting a sext and made it 4.5 times more likely that they would send a sext.
- Those who get sexts usually send them, too.
- Sexting receivers were 23 times more apt to be senders.
Healthy Precautions For Young Cell Phone Users
It’s possible that the young respondents answered in ways that they perceived as socially desirable, and youth in the Los Angeles area are not necessarily representative of all adolescents. Nevertheless, the high correlation between heavy texting, sexting and early sexual activity should be a wake-up call to parents.
The moment a child is given their own cell phone is the time to have a frank discussion about the potential dangers and what constitutes healthy communication. Limiting the number of texts or occasionally checking your child’s phone may be wise precautions.
Learn More About: Teen Sexting: Are There Different Effects For Black, Hispanic Groups?