By Alvin Tran
Sexting may be a new “normal” part of adolescent sexual development, reports a new study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.
“The study results indicate that sexting may precede sexual intercourse in some cases and further cements the idea that sexting behavior is a credible sign of teenage sexual activity,” the study’s press release reports.
But what the study does not find is any link between sexting and high-risk sexual behavior. That lack of a link, the authors write, may suggest that "sexting is a new 'normal' part of adolescent sexual development and not strictly limited to at-risk adolescents."
The researchers, based at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, analyzed data of an ongoing six-year study. It followed high school students in southeast Texas, who periodically completed anonymous surveys that measured various behaviors, including their history of sexting and sexual activity. After examining whether teen sexting predicted sexual behavior after a one-year follow-up, they found that the odds of being sexually active among those who sexted was 1.32 times larger than those who didn’t sext the previous year.
“In this temporal examination of the relationship between teen sexting and sexual behaviors, we found that sending naked pictures of oneself was associated with being sexually active one year later,” the authors wrote. But “counter to previous cross-sectional research, sexting was not temporally associated with risky sexual behaviors; and active sexting mediated the relationship between passive sexting and sexual intercourse,” they added.