Sexting by High School Students
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In the last 8 years, several studies have documented that many adolescents acknowledge having exchanged sexually explicit cell phone pictures of themselves, a behavior termed sexting. Differences across studies in how sexting was defined, recruitment strategies, and cohort have resulted in sometimes significant differences in as basic a metric as what percentage of adolescents have sent, received, or forwarded such sexts. The psychosocial and even legal risks associated with sexting by minors are significantly serious that accurate estimates of its prevalence, including over time, are important to ascertain. In the present study, students (N = 656) from a single private high school were surveyed regarding their participation in sexting. Students at this same school were similarly surveyed four years earlier. In this second survey, reported rates of sending (males 15.8%; females 13.6%) and receiving (males 40.5%; females 30.6%) sexually explicit cell phone pictures (revealing genitals or buttocks of either sex or female breasts) were generally similar to those reported at the same school 4 years earlier. Rates of forwarding sexts (males 12.2%; females 7.6%) were much lower than those previously acknowledged at this school. Correlates of sexting in this study were similar to those reported previously. Overall, our findings suggest that sexting by adolescents (with the exception of forwarding) remains a fairly common behavior, despite its risks.
KeywordsSexting Adolescents Communication Sexual behavior
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
All procedures performed in this study involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of our institution’s (University of Utah) Institutional Review Board and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in this study.
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