This study examined the prevalence and characteristics of adolescents appearing in, creating, and/or receiving sexual images, also known as sexting.
Findings from this study on the prevalence of youth sexting include the following: of the youth surveyed, 9.6 percent reported appearing in or creating nude or nearly images or receiving such images in the past year; of those participating in sexting, approximately 1 percent appeared in or created nude or nearly nude images that were sexually explicit, 2.5 percent appeared in or created images, and 7.1 percent received images of others but did not appear in them or create them; 61 percent of the youth who appeared in or created images were girls, 72 percent were ages 16 or 17, and 6 percent were ages 10 to 12; and 56 percent of the youth who received images were girls, 55 percent were ages 16 or 17, and none were younger than 12. This study examined the prevalence and characteristics of adolescent sexting, youths appearing in, creating, and/or receiving sexual images of their peers. Data for the study were obtained from a cross-sectional national telephone survey of 1,560 youth Internet users, ages 10 through 17. The focus of the study was to determine the range of youth sexting behaviors, including the content of the images that are created, sent, and received, and to provide parents and policymakers with a more accurate assessment of the problem of sexting. While the findings indicate that only a small percentage of youth are involved in sexting, and that only a small portion of the images are ever forwarded or posted, serious consequences still exist for youth involved in sexting. These include possession of potentially illegal images and increased risk taking behaviors. The findings indicate a need for young people to be educated about the problems associated with sexting. Study limitations are discussed. 4 tables, 1 figure, and 19 references