“Under most existing laws, if our findings were extrapolated nationally, several million teens could be prosecuted for child pornography,” explains a new study on teen sexting, which finds that a whopping 28% of teenagers text fully-nude pictures of themselves. We took a deep dive into the much reported Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine article, and found some weird insights into a 21st century trend that is quickly becoming the norm among teenagers.
1. White kids love sexting. More than any other demographic (Hispanic, African American, and Asian), white students reported sexting in the highest percentage (35%), nearly double that of Asians (19). African Americans were a somewhat distant second at 27%, followed by Hispanics (21%), and Asians.
2. “Several million” teens could be held liable for child pornography, as some states do not define inappropriate sexual behavior as only between an adult and a minor. The prevalence of sexting has put some experts in the awkward position of pressing for laxer child pornography laws, so that curious teenagers aren’t branded as pedophiles.
3. If you find sexting pics sent from your kid’s phone, there’s a strong possibility that he or she is sexually active. 77% of girls and 82% of boys who had reported sending a sext were also no longer virgins.
4. Gender stereotypes hold true with new technology: boys are bothered by being asked to sext much less than girls. Nearly all girls (~95%) were at least a “little bothered” by sexting requests and roughly 30% were bothered “a great deal.” Yet, nearly half of all boys didn’t mind “at all”, and less than 5% were bothered a great deal. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
5. The suburbs aren’t safe from the trend either: socio-economic status had virtually no effect on whether teens sexted. Parents with a high school diploma or less were only 2% more likely to have sexting teens compared to those with at least some college.
As sexting moves closer to becoming the norm, it begs the question of whether sexting will be seen as deviant to the next generation, just as out-of-wedlock sexual relations became the norm for previous generations. Until such time, sexting still poses distressing risks for teens whose pictures end up in the wrong hands, and suffer dangerous psychological damage from their cruel peers. In other words, talk to your kids about responsible use of technology.