Sexting in middle school puts kids at risk for starting sexual activities, study finds

01/15/2014 12:00 AM

08/08/2014 10:21 AM

Sexting among middle school students can lead to early sexual activity, giving parents more reason to be aware of young teenagers’ “phone behaviors,” suggests a new study.

At least among kids who already have emotional or behavioral problems, engaging in sexting – or even just sending flirtatious messages – means they are more likely to engage in sex acts, the study published in Pediatrics found.

The study involved seventh-graders and was conducted by researchers at two Rhode Island hospitals. The lead researcher told Fox News the findings may not apply to all youngsters but said there does seem to be a connection between what kids do on their phones and in person.

“We know early adolescents are using mobile phones and all forms of technology more and more, and we know that early adolescence is a time when people become engaged in sexual activity,” said Christopher Houck, the lead researcher and a psychologist at Rhode Island Hospital. “So how those two connect is an important area of study.”

Another researcher who was not involved in the study told Fox News the study gives parents even more reason to discuss sexting – texting nude or semi-nude photos or sexually explicit messages – with their children.

“I think it adds to the growing literature on this that the line between offline and online behaviors is becoming increasingly blurred,” said Jeff Temple of the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston.

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