Researchers, including one of an Indian-origin, have provided a much-needed update to what is currently known about the nature and extent of sexting among the youth. "Findings from our study provide a very important message for youth who may believe media headlines that suggest sexting is more widespread than it actually is," said Sameer Hinduja, Professor at the Florida Atlantic University.
The study, published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior, surveyed a nationally representative sample of 5,593 American middle and high school students (aged 12 to 17) to analyse the prevalence rates for sending and receiving sexually explicit images or videos. Results showed that across all socio-demographic variables explored, the vast majority of students were not participating in sexting.
Approximately 14 per cent of middle and high school students have received a sexually explicit image from a boyfriend or girlfriend, while 13.6 per cent said they received such an image from someone who was not a current romantic partner. About 11 per cent of students reported sending a sex-text to their boyfriend or girlfriend.
Interestingly, most of the students who were asked by a current boyfriend or girlfriend to send a sext complied (63.9 per cent). The students who were asked to send a sext by someone who was not a current romantic partner, only 43 per cent complied.
Males were significantly more likely to have sent and received a sext from a current romantic partner. However, males and females were equally likely to receive them from someone who was not a current boyfriend or girlfriend. Female students were more likely to have been asked to send a sex-text by someone who was not a current romantic partner (14.3 per cent), but only 34.1 per cent complied.
Overall, about four per cent of students said they shared an explicit image sent to them with another person without their permission, and about the same number believed an image of them was shared with others without permission. "Showing adolescents clear evidence that a relatively small proportion of teens engage in sexting could actually result in decreased overall participation since it underscores that it is not as normal, commonplace, or widespread as they might believe," said Justin Patchin, Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.
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