A recent study found middle school students who send an excessive amount of text messages are more likely to report being sexually active.
"Kids that just texted, and we're not including sexting, but just texted, the more they texted it was likelier that they were engaging in aberrant sexualized behavior at younger ages," said Dr. Joe Austerman, who did not take part in the study but is a child psychiatrist at Cleveland Clinic Children's.
Researchers polled more than 1,200 students ages 10-15 years old. They found students who texted 100 times or more each day were more likely to report sending and receiving sexually explicit text and picture cell phone messages, also known as 'sexts', and be sexually active.
Among those with access to texting, 20 percent reported having received at least one sext, 5 percent reported having sent one and students who had sent and received a sext were more likely to be sexually active than those who didn't.
Researchers say this is a concern because earlier experience with sex is linked with higher rates of sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy and other risks. Austerman says parents need to discuss the risks of texting with their children.
"Teenagers, and even pre-teenagers, they don't have the capability to stop themselves from acting impulsively. So, it's very easy to send a text out without thinking about the ramifications," he said.
Complete findings for the study "Sexting and Sexual Behavior Among Middle School Students" can be found in the journal Pediatrics.
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