*The following is excerpted from an online article from the Washington Post.
A new study to be published in the journal Pediatrics found that sexting is the new norm among adolescents, and isn't reserved just for at-risk teens. Although the study links sexting with later sexual activity, it found that those teens do not necessarily engage in risky sexual behavior later on.
The study suggests that sexting, though something to be concerned about, has become today’s new first base. In other words, it’s becoming a part of growing up.
“This behavior isn’t always new, it’s just a new medium,” said Jeff Temple, an associate professor and psychologist at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, and the study’s author. “But it’s not safe because it can be shared.”
The findings are from within the original 2012 study, done during a six year period. A diverse group of almost 1,000 adolescents in Southeast Texas answered anonymous surveys detailing their history of sexting (or sending sexually explicit images to another person electronically), sexual activity and other behaviors.
Temple and his postdoctoral fellow, Hye Jeong Choi, then looked at data from years two and three of the surveys to determine if sexting led to risky behaviors or if risky behaviors came first.
“Sexting preceeded sexual behavior in many cases,” Temple said. “The theory behind that is sexting may act as a gateway or prelude to sexual behaviors or increases the acceptance of going to the next level.”
But the study found that among those teens having sex, most weren’t engaging in risky sexual behaviors.