One out of every seven Los Angeles high schoolers with a cell phone has sent a sexually-explicit text message or photo, according to results of a 2011 survey that also found “sexters” more likely to engage in risky sex behaviors.
In the new study, the LA teens who had sent racy texts were seven times more likely to be sexually active than those who said they’d never sexted.
“No one’s actually going to get a sexually transmitted disease because they’re sexting,” said Eric Rice, a social network researcher from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, who led the new study.
“What we really wanted to know is, is there a link between sexting and taking risks with your body? And the answer is a pretty resounding ‘yes,'” he told Reuters Health.
A study of Houston, Texas, high schoolers out earlier this summer found one in four teens had sent a naked photo of themselves through text message or email, and those kids were also much more likely to be having risky sex.
Rice’s findings, published Monday in the journal Pediatrics, are based on 1,839 students in Los Angeles high schools, most of whom were Latino. Three-quarters of them owned a cell phone that they used regularly.
On a survey sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, just over 40 percent of teens with a cell phone said they’d had sex, and about two-thirds used a condom the last time they did.
Rice said the rate of teen sexting in Houston may have been slightly higher than in Los Angeles because of demographic differences – but that overall the two reports are consistent.
“Somewhere in the middle is probably a pretty good estimate of what’s going on nationally,” said Jeff Temple, a psychologist and women’s health researcher from The University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston who worked on the Houston study