About one in five middle-school children are sexting, claims a new study.
For the uninitiated, "sexting" is sending sexual pictures and/or sexually explicit texts via cell phone.
The study, which was published today in the medical journal Pediatrics, found that 17 percent of the children in the study said they had sent a sexually explicit text message in the past six months, while 5 percent sent sexually explicit text messages and sexual photos, notes Reuters.
The study also says that children, who were sexting, are four to seven times more likely to have sex than adolescents who don't participate in sexting.
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“Certainly, if [parents] see photos, then that’s an extra warning sign that there might be a real need to have a conversation and to monitor,” Dr. Christopher Houck, lead author of the study and a psychologist at Rhode Island Hospital's Bradley Hasbro Children's Research Center in Providence, told Today.com.
“Previous studies have suggested that a very small percentage of early adolescents were sexting, but we don’t really believe that,” added Dr. Houck.
He says the study was based on young people who have behavioral and emotional problems.
For the study, 420 children, between 12 and 14 years old, from five urban public schools in Rhode Island were studied between 2009 and 2012.
In a previous study, almost 60 percent of teens said that they had been asked to send naked photos of themselves through text or email.
That study was conducted by Jeff Temple (and his colleagues), who is the director of behavioral health and research in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas.
"It should go hand in hand with a talk about healthy relationships and sexual behavior," Temple previously told Reuters. "It's just part of the new portfolio of adolescence these days."
"That's going to happen," added Temple. "Your kid is going to be asked to send a naked picture."
Sources: Reuters and Today.com