Scores of teens say they’ve received sexually suggestive or nude images or videos from others. But far fewer say they’ve sent them, according to the just-released study from the Pew Internet and American Life Project.
According to the study, 4% of cell-owning teens ages 12-17 say they have sent sexually suggestive nude or nearly nude images or videos of themselves to someone else via text messaging, a practice also known as ¢â‚¬Å“sexting¢â‚¬. 15% say they have received such images of someone they know via text message. In addition, 6% of children ages 12 to 13 said they’d received sexts. The results also included children who’d seen the messages on passed-around cell phones, a potential wake-up for parents who think they’re insulating their kids from sexts by prohibiting them from owning a phone according to the study.
¢â‚¬Å“Teens explained to us how sexually suggestive images have become a form of relationship currency,¢â‚¬ said Amanda Lenhart, Senior Research Specialist and author of the report. ¢â‚¬Å“These images are shared as a part of or instead of sexual activity, or as a way of starting or maintaining a relationship with a significant other. And they are also passed along to friends for their entertainment value, as a joke or for fun.¢â‚¬
Focus group findings show that sexting occurs most often in one of three scenarios:
1. Exchanges of images solely between two romantic partners
2. Exchanges between partners that are then shared outside the relationship
3. Exchanges between people who are not yet in a relationship, but where often one person hopes to be.
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