Some experts have argued that so-called “sexting” among teenagers serves as a substitute for real-life sex. The USC study suggests that is not true.
Researchers found instead that teens who trade sexually explicit photos and message on their cell phones are more likely to engage both in real-life sex and in real-life sexually-risky behaviors, such as unprotected intercourse.
Researchers interviewed 1,839 Los Angeles high school students for the survey. More than half said they knew of a peer who participated in sexting, and 15 percent admitted they had sent and received sexually explicit text messages on their mobile phones.
Of those teens who admitted engaging in “sexting,” nearly four out of five reported being sexually active. Among those who said they have not “sexted,” only one in three said they were having sex.
The study, which appears in the journal Pediatrics, suggests that school-based sex education curricula should include discussions about sexting and its associated risk behaviors.