Phew! Teen Sexting Is Not All the Rage

Tue, 06/12/2011

Kids can do some pretty dumb things with their smart phones, but it turns out (OMG!) that we owe them some credit.

Previous stats had us believing that as many as one in five teens participated in sexting, but new numbers published today in a Pediatrics study indicate that the naughty (and illegal) act of sending nude photos via mobile phone is far less prevalent among teens than we once thought -- closer to one 1 percent.

The national study, "Prevalence and Characteristics of Youth Sexting," surveyed more than 1,500 kids ages 10 (eek) to 17 and delved deeper than previous studies on sexting, providing demographics such as the age, sex, race, and family life of the "sexters," and offering insight on the context of the sexting ("romance/part of a relationship" -- which was most common, or "joke/prank," "bullying/harassment," etc.).

The survey even went as far as to ask sexting kids what parts they bared (in order to determine how many children are participating in what is legally considered pornography). Very few of the photos could be deemed pornographic, which is good news, I suppose.

Even so, all it takes is one seemingly harmless photo sent to a boyfriend or girlfriend to land a child in legal trouble -- or worse. In the 2008 sexting case of 18-year-old Jesse Logan, nude photos intended for her boyfriend circulated around her school and led to her suicide.

Was/Is sexting part of your "birds-and-bees" and Internet safety conversation with your child? Improved statistics aside, it probably should be.