There have been multiple reports stating that sexting (sending sexually explicit words, pictures or videos via text) went up among teens. One study adds that one in seven teens under the age of 18 sends sexts. It said that one in four teens under the age of 18 receives sexts. The study’s authors cite the emergence with the increased access to smartphones since 2009 as a driving force for this upsurge.
The study, titled “Prevalence of Multiple Forms of Sexting Behavior Among Youth,” included 110,000 participants between the ages of 12 and 17. The research spanned 1996 to 2016 and analyzed the findings of 39 studies in one meta-analysis.
Noteworthy information includes:
- Older teens are more likely to engage in this behavior
- There is no difference in frequency among genders
- One in eight juveniles forwarded a non-consensual sext
What can parents do?
These findings are likely to be a cause of concern for many parents. Tips for addressing sexting include:
- Research how to initiate discussion regarding sexting.
- Have conversations about sexting often to normalize the conversation.
- This is a relatively normal behavior, so do not panic.
- Try to get information about the relationship and then try to explain the risks and consequences.
- Discovery that a child is doing this is an excellent premise for have “the talk” with them.
Sexting is a serious matter
We recommend not panicking if a child engages in this behavior. However, parents should still take it very seriously, particularly if school officials or the police are involved because of bullying or harassment. Charges involving sexting are quite severe even for minors and can jeopardize the child’s prospects as well as sports and other after school activities. There may also be substantial fines. Generally speaking, families should work with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help ensure that the punishments fit the crimes.