Thursday, November 1st, 2012
Teenagers who use smartphones are more likely to engage in sexual activities than their peers who do not have the devices, a new study presented to the American Public Health Association has found. The reason may be as simple as convenience; smartphones enable teens to more easily arrange sexual encounters. MSNBC.com has more:
Smartphones likely aren’t directly causing risky teen sex, said study researcher Eric Rice, of the University of Southern California’s School of Social Work in Los Angeles. Rather, smartphones may make it easier for teens to arrange sexual encounters, Rice said.
“It’s a tool through which this sort of behavior can happen,” Rice said.
While parents have come up with strategies to monitor the online behavior of their kids on computers, “I don’t know that we’ve thought through quite as clearly what it means for teens to have the Internet on their phones 24 hours a day,” Rice said.
Rice said sex education programs should start to include discussions regarding the risks of seeking sex online. In addition, parents should use this as an opportunity to begin a discussion with their teen about sexual health and use of technology, he said.
“I don’t want parents to freak out,” Rice said.
This new research follows a recent study that found that teens who “sext” or send sexually suggestive text messages, are 7 times more likely to be sexually active.
Image: Teen on smartphone, via Shutterstock
Tuesday, September 18th, 2012
Teenagers who engage in “sexting,” or sending sexually explicit text messages, are 7 times more likely than their peers to be sexually active in the non-virtual world, a new study published in the journal Pediatrics has found. Further, the study found that because sexting is a risky behavior, the practice also puts teens at higher risk for having risky sex, putting them in danger of contracting HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. From CNN:
“The same teens who are engaging in digital sex risk taking through sexting are also the same teens that are engaging in sex risk with their bodies in terms of being sexually active and not using condoms,” said lead study author Eric Rice, an assistant professor at the University of Southern California’s School of Social Work in Los Angeles.
A 2009 report from the Pew Research Center found that some teens “view sexting as a safer alternative to real life sexual activity.”
While the term ”sexting” may also include messages also sent over the Internet, this particular study looked solely at cell phone text messages and images. It was conducted via questionnaire in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Researchers surveyed 1,839 students ages 12 to 18 at random. Most were Latino or African-American. Three-quarters of those surveyed had cell phones.
“Even though a minority of teens sext – we only found 15% – but that 15% are much riskier with their physical sexual behaviors as well as their digital sexual behaviors,” says Rice.
He add that teens who reported sexting were seven times more likely to be sexually active than their peers who did not sext.
Image: Teen sending text message, via Shutterstock
Monday, December 5th, 2011
A new study has found that while one out of ten 10-17-year-olds has sent or received a sexually suggestive text message on a cell phone, only out of 100 of those images would constitute “child pornography” as it is currently defined by the law. The New York Times reports that though the study, which was published in the journal Pediatrics, does not point to widespread child pornography on cell phones, the data does confirm that tweens and teens are using technology as part of exploring their sexuality:
Over all, the new report found, 149 youths interviewed for the study, or 9.6 percent, said they had sent or received images that included full or partial nudity in the previous year. Just over 2 percent of those who engaged in sexting said they had appeared in the pictures or had taken them themselves, and 7.1 percent said they received sexual images from someone else.
In most cases, the motivations for sending or forwarding sexual texts were not malicious. Most of the youths who sent such messages said that they did so with someone they were involved in a relationship with, or that their messages were flirtatious gestures to someone they had a romantic interest in.
About 31 percent who appeared in or took sexual images said that alcohol or drug use had been a factor. And despite public concerns about lewd photographs of minors that start out as private messages becoming widely distributed, only 3 percent of the minors in the study said they had forwarded sexual photographs that they had received.
The fact that about a third of sexual messages were created or sent when alcohol or drugs were involved suggests that the children who are doing the riskiest messaging are engaging in other risky behaviors as well, said Nancy Baym, a professor of communication studies at the University of Kansas and author of the book “Personal Connections in the Digital Age.”
Image: Teenage girl texting, via Shutterstock