Sexting by High School Students: An Exploratory and Descriptive Study
Purchase on Springer.com
$39.95 / €34.95 / £29.95*
Rent the article at a discountRent now
* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.
Recently, a phenomenon known as sexting, defined here as the transfer of sexually explicit photos via cell phone, has received substantial attention in the U.S. national media. To determine the current and potential future impact of sexting, more information about the behavior and the attitudes and beliefs surrounding it must be gathered, particularly as it relates to sexting by minors. The present study was designed to provide preliminary information about this phenomenon. Participants were 606 high school students (representing 98 % of the available student body) recruited from a single private high school in the southwestern U.S. Nearly 20 % of all participants reported they had ever sent a sexually explicit image of themselves via cell phone while almost twice as many reported that they had ever received a sexually explicit picture via cell phone and, of these, over 25 % indicated that they had forwarded such a picture to others. Of those reporting having sent a sexually explicit cell phone picture, over a third did so despite believing that there could be serious legal and other consequences attached to the behavior. Given the potential legal and psychological risks associated with sexting, it is important for adolescents, parents, school administrators, and even legislators and law enforcement to understand this behavior.
- Ang, R. P., & Goh, D. H. (2010). Cyberbullying among adolescents: The role of affective and cognitive empathy, and gender. Child Psychiatry and Human Development, 41, 387–397. CrossRef
- Associated Press-MTV. (2009). Digital abuse survey. Knowledge networks. Retrieved from http://surveys.ap.org/data/KnowledgeNetworks/AP_Digital_Abuse_Topline_092209.pdf.
- Baumgartner, S. E., Valkenburg, P. M., & Peter, J. (2010). Assessing causality in the relationship between adolescents’ risky sexual online behavior and their perceptions of this behavior. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 39, 1226–1239. CrossRef
- Brown, J. D., & L’Engle, K. L. (2009). X-rated: Sexual attitudes and behaviors associated with adolescents’ exposure to sexually explicit media. Communication Research, 36, 129–151. CrossRef
- Celizic, M. (2009, March 6). Her teen committed suicide over ‘sexting’. MSNBC.com. Retrieved from http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/29546030/ns/today-parenting/.
- Cupples, J., & Thompson, L. (2010). Heterotextuality and digital foreplay. Feminist Media Studies, 10, 1–17. CrossRef
- Englander, E. K. (2010, January 18). ‘Sexting’ blackmail. Boston Globe.com. Retrieved from http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/letters/articles/2010/01/18/sexting_blackmail/.
- Fattah, G. (2008, April 5). Parents fear kids will be on sex list: Trading of nude photos raises registry concerns. Deseret Morning News. Retrieved from http://www.deseretnews.com/article/695267673/Parents-fear-kids-will-be-on-sex-list.html.
- Flood, M. (2007). Exposure to pornography among youth in Australia. Journal of Sociology, 43, 45–60. CrossRef
- Hoffman, J. (2011, March 26). A girl’s nude photo, and altered lives. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/27/us/27sexting.html.
- Inbar, M. (2009, December 2). ‘Sexting’ bullying cited in teen’s suicide. MSNBC.com. Retrieved from http://today.msnbc.msn.com.
- Lenhart, A. (2009, December 15). Teens and sexting. The Pew Research Center. Retrieved from http://www.pewinternet.org/~/media//Files/Reports/2009/PIP_Teens_and_Sexting.pdf.
- Lewin, T. (2010, March 20). Rethinking sex offender laws for youth texting. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/21/us/21sexting.html?scp=3&sq=sex+offender+laws&st=nyt.
- Lithwick, D. (2009, February 14). Teens, nude photos and the law. Newsweek. Retrieved from www.newsweek.com/2009/02/13/teens-nude-photos-and-the-law.html.
- Lutz, B. J. (2010, October 28). Boy, girl charged with child porn. NBC Chicago. Retrieved from http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/local/indiana-middle-school-sexting-82949612.html.
- Mitchell, K. J., Finkelhor, D., Jones, L. M., & Wolak, J. (2012). Prevalence and characteristics of youth sexting: A national study. Pediatrics, 129, 13–20. CrossRef
- Mitchell, K. J., Wolak, J., & Finkelhor, D. (2007). Trends in youth reports of sexual solicitations, harassment and unwanted exposure to pornography on the Internet. Journal of Adolescent Health, 40, 116–126. CrossRef
- National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy & CosmoGirl.com. (2008). Sex and tech. Retrieved from http://www.thenationalcampaign.org/sextech/pdf/sextech_summary.pdf.
- O’Connor, A. (2011, December 5). Sexting among teenagers not as common as thought. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/05/science/sending-of-sexual-images-by-minors-not-as-prevalent-as-thought-study-finds.html?scp=1&sq=sexual%20images&st=cse.
- Ostrager, B. (2010). SMS. OMG! LOL! TTYL: Translating the law to accommodate today’s teens and the evolution from texting to sexting. Family Court Review, 48, 712–726. CrossRef
- Peter, J., & Valkenburg, P. M. (2006). Adolescents’ exposure to sexually explicit material on the Internet. Communication Research, 33, 178–204. CrossRef
- Peter, J., & Valkenburg, P. M. (2008). Adolescents’ exposure to sexually explicit Internet material and sexual preoccupancy: A three-wave panel study. Media Psychology, 11, 207–234. CrossRef
- Peter, J., & Valkenburg, P. M. (2009). Adolescents’ exposure to sexually explicit Internet material and notions of women as sex objects: Assessing causality and underlying processes. Journal of Communication, 59, 407–433. CrossRef
- Peter, J., & Valkenburg, P. M. (2011). The influence of sexually explicit Internet material on sexual risk behavior: A comparison of adolescents and adults. Journal of Health Communications, 16, 750–765. CrossRef
- Peter, J., Valkenburg, P. M., & Schouten, A. P. (2005). Developing a model of adolescent friendship formation on the Internet. Cyber Psychology & Behavior, 8, 423–430.
- Raskauskas, J., & Stoltz, A. D. (2007). Involvement in electronic bullying among adolescents. Developmental Psychology, 43, 564–575. CrossRef
- Reardon, M. (2008, September 15). Teens view cell phones as essential. CNET News. Retrieved from http://news.cnet.com/8301-1035_3-10041377-94.html.
- Reavy, P. (2008, May 27). Cell phone use is creating new problems in schools: Police say devices are distracting, are used to facilitate crimes. Deseret News. Retrieved from www.deseretnews.com.
- Robinson, L. A., Emmons, K. M., Moolchan, E. T., & Ostroff, J. S. (2008). Developing smoking cessation programs for chronically ill teen: Lessons learned from research with healthy adolescent smokers. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 33, 133–144. CrossRef
- Rubinkam, M. (2008, January 25). Cell phone porn scandal hits U.S. school: At least 40 high school students believed to have received images. MSNBC. Retrieved from http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22840727/print/1/displaymodel/1098/.
- Schorsch, K. (2010, January 28). Sexting leads to felony charges for children. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved from http://www.chicagotribune.com.
- Strassberg, D. S., & Lowe, K. (1995). Volunteer bias in sexuality research. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 24, 369–382. CrossRef
- Thomas, K. (2009, May). Teen online & wireless safety survey: Cyberbullying, sexting, and parental controls. Retrieved from http://ksdresources.pbworks.com/f/2009_teen_survey_internet_and_wireless_safety%5B1%5D.pdf.
- Tokunaga, R. S. (2010). Following you home from school: A critical review and synthesis of research on cyberbullying victimization. Computers in Human Behavior, 26, 277–287. CrossRef
- Valkenburg, P. M., & Peter, J. (2007). Preadolescents’ and adolescents’ online communication and their closeness to friends. Developmental Psychology, 43, 267–277. CrossRef
- Valkenburg, P. M., & Peter, J. (2011). Online communication among adolescents: An integrated model of its attraction, opportunities, and risks. Journal of Adolescent Health, 48, 121–127. CrossRef
- Weiss, R., & Samenow, C. P. (2010). Smart phones, social networking, sexting and problematic sexual behaviors—a call for research. Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity, 17, 241–246. CrossRef
- Wolak, J., Finkelhor, D., & Mitchell, K. J. (2012). How often are teen arrested for sexting? Data from a national sample of police cases. Pediatrics, 129, 4–12. CrossRef
- Ybarra, M. L., & Mitchell, K. J. (2005). Exposure to Internet pornography among children and adolescents: A national survey. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 8, 473–486. CrossRef
- Sexting by High School Students: An Exploratory and Descriptive Study
Archives of Sexual Behavior
Volume 42, Issue 1 , pp 15-21
- Cover Date
- Print ISSN
- Online ISSN
- Springer US
- Additional Links
- Explicit cell phone pictures
- Industry Sectors
- Author Affiliations
- 1. Department of Psychology, University of Utah, 380 S. 1530 E., Room 502, Salt Lake City, UT, 84112, USA
- 2. Program in Human Sexuality, Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, University of Minnesota Medical School, Minneapolis, MN, USA