Remember those innocent days back before sexting was even a word? When ruffled collars covered us up to our chins, courting was the norm, and no one under the age of 21 even touched each other? Yeah, well, the good old days are over now that technology has turned our young people into a bunch of sexty beasts. Yes, a new study has found that not only are a lot of teens sexting, those who are tend to be far more likely to be having actual sex—you know, old-fashioned skin-on-skin, no-data-network-involved sexual intercourse. Pearls = clutched.
The study, which was led by Jeff R. Temple of the University of Texas in Galveston, polled nearly 1,000 15- and 16-year-olds who attended public high school. It turned out that 28 percent of teens admitted to having beamed out a naked picture of themselves into the ether. Thirty-one percent of the kids said they'd asked someone to send them a naked picture, but 57 percent said they'd been asked to send a naked picture. It wasn't always a welcome request: Of the kids who'd been asked to send a photo, most of them said they were bothered by the invitation to reveal their private parts in a potentially very public way. Yet many of them did it anyway. While boys and girls were both equally likely to send a sext, the boys were more likely to ask for one. Temple found that almost 70 percent of the girls had been asked to send a sext. And they say chivalry is dead...
What's interesting is that there seems to be some correlation between who's willing to engage in virtual sexual activity and who will engage in it IRL. Of the girls who'd never sent a sext, 42 percent had engaged in actual sex; Though of the girls who'd admitted to sexting, more than 77 percent of them had had sex. The boys who'd sexted were even more likely to have had sex than the girls. Almost 82 percent of the sexter boys said they'd had real sex, whereas only 45 percent of the non-sexters had. Jeeze, there's a whole lot of sexy sexting sex happening these days.
What's a little worrisome, however, is that the girls who sexted were found to have a higher chance of engaging in risky sexual behavior—including using drugs and alcohol before sex or sleeping with multiple partners. The male sexters did not exhibit the same tendency toward risky behaviors. The risks of exposure via sexting are probably higher for girls, since society tends to judge girls who get naked far more harshly than it does boys who do the same thing. Thus, it makes a certain amount of sense that those who'd be willing to risk sexting might also be prone to take other sexual risks.
Overall, Temple concludes that sexting "may be a reliable indicator of actual sexual behavior." And, yes, if you're willing to expose yourself sexually through one channel, you might be more open to doing it in other ways. Though it doesn't seem likely that it's the ability to sext that's driving teens to have sex. Rather it's just another mode through which they can express their already sex-obsessed minds. So what are we supposed to do with this information—other than forbid teens from going anywhere near phones or their fellow human teens? Well, not much, really. At this point, the risks of sexting are well established, but it keeps happening anyway. Why? Because it's thrilling, and teenagers have terrible judgement—and a thousand other reasons. So probably we should just be glad we didn't come of age in a time when this was an option for us. And what's the point in even worrying because soon teens will be able to beam naked images of themselves directly into each other's minds and all hell will break loose.
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