UTSPH researchers find sexting common among minority teens

Sexting, the use of technology to send or receive sexually explicit messages, photos, or videos, is a relatively new trend and, in many cases, has legal implications. Researchers at The University of Texas School of Public Health reported that 20% of minority students in a urban setting reported sending a nude or semi-nude picture or video or a sexual text message—any one of these considered a “sext”—and more than 30% reported receiving a sext.

The research was published in the peer-reviewed journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking.

Melissa Peskin web 231x300 | UTSPH researchers find sexting common among minority teens

Melissa Fleschler Peskin, PhD

“The results of this study indicate that sexting is relatively common among ethnic minority youth,” according to Melissa Fleschler Peskin, PhD, assistant professor in the division of Health Promotion and Behavioral Science at the UT School of Public Health.  

The research team specifically examined the prevalence and patterns of sexting among a sample of more than 1,000 black and Hispanic high school students from a large, urban school district in southeast Texas. They also reviewed the data in terms of gender and race/ethnicity.

Ten percent of sexts were often shared with unintended recipients, and one-third of the youths reported sharing or receiving sexts that were meant to be private.

Black males and females reported similar prevalence estimates for sexting behaviors. However, they were more likely than Hispanic males to participate in some sexting behaviors. Hispanic females reported the lowest estimates for sexting behaviors for all gender–race/ethnicity subgroups.

“More research is needed in this area to understand the specific context and circumstances for sexting activities among teens,” Peskin said. Next steps in sexting research include prospective analyses to determine the association between sexting, sociodemographic factors, and behavioral and health outcomes.

The study was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Adolescent Family Life.