Lifestyle & Belief

Nearly 20 percent of teens admit to sexting


A new study shows teenagers are continuing to sext messages, despite knowing the consequences.


Joern Pollex

Teenagers are continuing to send sexts, or sexually explicit text messages, despite knowing the consequences.

In the new study headed by Donald Strassberg of the University of Utah, the researchers found that nearly 20 percent of teens said they had sent a sexually explicit image of themselves via mobile phone, and nearly twice as many said that they had received a sexually explicit photo.

The group defined sexting as sending sexually explicit photos. The study participants included freshmen through seniors in high school, including students as young as 14.

According to Live Science, the researchers surveyed 606 students from a private high school in the Southwest US. They asked the teens about their experiences sexting and their understanding of the consequences if caught. 

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The New York Daily News noted that while age of consent laws vary from country to country, in many US states, both sending or receiving sexual pictures of people under 18 can be considered possession or distribution of child pornography. Nearly 25 percent of the students who said they received a sext also said they forwarded the photo to others.

The survey also asked the students how they feel people should be punished. The most common response was, "no consequence."

For more on the consequences of youth sexting, check out this infographic. 

Find out what adults think should be done about teen sexting, in today's LiveScience GoFigure infographic.