Teens and Sexting

Pew Charitable Trusts

A 2009 telephone survey of 800 teens between the ages of 12 and 17, as well as a series of focus groups with youth ages 12 to 18 conducted in 2009 by the Pew Charitable Trusts, found that 4 percent of youth admitted to sending sexually suggestive, nude or nearly-nude images or videos to others. Eight percent of 17-year-olds said they have sent a “sext” while 4 percent of 12-year-olds admitted to having done the same. Those who paid their own cell phone bills were more likely to send sexts than teens whose parents covered phone costs. Fifteen percent of youth studied reported to have received these kinds of messages, the majority of them being older teens ages 14 to 17.

The report suggests that parental intervention can include limiting the number of texts their teens can send and receive. Due to conflicts in prosecuting teens who practice sexting, laws and practices are being developed and revised in order to appropriately deal with teens who sext.

The report also found that the percentage of 12-year-olds who have their own cell phones tripled from 2004 to 2009, and the percentage of 17-year-olds who have their own cell phones more than quadrupled during the same period. With 58 percent of 12-year-olds and 83 percent of 17-year-olds having their own cell phones in 2009, texting, using the Internet and sharing media has become a part of everyday life, according to the study.

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