Teen sexting associated with delinquency, sexual behaviours and mental health issues, study finds

Teen sexting associated with delinquency, sexual behaviours and mental health issues, study finds

UCalgary psychologists call for better education to raise awareness about digital health, safety and conduct

AUTHORHeath McCoy, Faculty of Arts

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A broad analysis of 23 studies on adolescent sexual behaviours, involving 41,723 participants, revealed that teen sexting is associated with a bevy of risk factors for youth, including multiple sexual partners, lack of contraception use, and mental health problems like anxiety, depression, delinquent behaviour and substance use.

The University of Calgary-led study, published in the medical journal JAMA Pediatrics,indicates the need for educational campaigns that raise awareness around issues of digital health, safety and conduct, to help youth navigate their personal, social and sexual development in a digital world.

“Sexting has become the newest method of expressing sexual behaviour in teens. It is common and on the rise,” says Dr. Sheri Madigan, PhD, an associate professor in the University of Calgary’s Department of Psychology, and member of the Owerko Centre at theAlberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute at the Cumming School of Medicine, senior researcher on the study.

“Our previously published research suggests that one in four teens are receiving sexts and one in seven are sending them. We also know that the majority of youth are not talking about this at home. Forty-nine per cent of parents have no intention of talking to youth about their online or offline sexual health. So, it’s really the flip of a coin as to whether youth are going to learn about safe, legal and ethical digital practices for their parents.”

Call for enhanced sex education curriculum

 

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