Approximately one out of every five teenagers, including some as young as fourteen years old, are sending or receiving sexually explicit photos, claims a new study published online earlier this month in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior.
According to a HealthDay News report published Friday, researchers from the University of Utah interviewed more than 600 students attending a private high school in the southwestern U.S. and asked them about their “sexting” experiences.
Of those who participated in the study, nearly 20% said that they had sent a sexually explicit image of themselves using a cellphone, while almost twice that number report that they had received such a picture. Over one quarter of those who had been the recipient of a sexually explicit photo had forwarded it to someone else, and one-third of those who had sent one said they did so even
though they knew that they could face “serious legal and other consequences if they were caught,” the HealthDay News report added.
The study, which was spearheaded by Utah psychology professor Donald Strassberg, also discovered that students who had sent a picture using their mobile devices were more likely to believe that “sexting” was acceptable behavior, the university said in a press release.
Strassberg and his co-authors said that their findings illustrate the need for increase cell phone safety awareness programs, as well as increased efforts to help teach teens about the “potential consequences” of the behavior.
The Utah study comes one month after a similar report from UK officials, which discovered that teenage girls were under increasing pressure to text and/or email sexually explicit photos of themselves, the AFP reported on Friday.
That study said that more than one-third of teenagers under the age of 18 were affected by sexting.
“What is a concerned parent to do? Psychology Today magazine recommends talking to your teen about the negative consequences of sexting and outline your expectations by creating a computer/mobile phone contract. You can also opt to have your child take an Internet safety class,” the French news agency said.
“Also, randomly have your teen share with you the photos in their phone or computer, and make sure they understand that once a photo is out there on the internet, there is no
way of retrieving it, even if it’s deleted from the phone or computer,” they added.