Is Sexting Normal? By Rick Nauert PhD
Provocative new research suggests sexting may be a new “normal” part of adolescent sexual development and is not strictly limited to at-risk teens.
Researchers have published their findings on teenage sexting and future sexual activity in the journal Pediatrics.
Investigators believe this shows that sexting behavior is a normal sign of teenage sexual activity. This belief is buttressed by the failure to discover a link between sexting and risky sexual behavior over time.
In other words, sexting may be becoming a part of growing up.
“We now know that teen sexting is fairly common,” said Dr. Jeff Temple, an associate professor and psychologist at University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB).
“For instance, sexting may be associated with other typical adolescent behaviors such as substance use. Sexting is not associated with either good or poor mental well-being.”
In the analysis, Temple and a postdoctoral research fellow at UTMB, Hye Jeong Choi, Ph.D., examined data from the second and third years of their study to determine whether teen sexting predicted sexual activity one year later.
They found that the odds of being sexually active as high school juniors was slightly higher for youth who sent a sext, or naked picture of themselves, the previous year, compared to teens who did not sext.
Just as importantly, they did not find sexting to be linked with later risky sexual behaviors.
An important component of the study is the distinction between actively sending a nude picture versus asking or being asked for a nude picture. Researchers found that actually sending a sext was the important part of the link between sexting and sexual behavior, as opposed to merely asking or being asked for a nude picture.