Sexting Is Associated with Risky Sexual Behavior

Source: Eric Rice, et al, "Sexually Explicit Cell Phone Messaging Associated with Sexual Risk Among Adolescents," Pediatrics, 17 September 2012.

Source: Genevra Pittman, ""Sexting" again linked to risky sex among teens: study," Reuters, 18 September 2012.

Source: Genevra Pittman, "Teen sexting: Strong link to risky sexual behavior," Christian Science Monitor, 17 September 2012.

Basic common sense has been once more confirmed. When a person is willing to break moral standards in one area, the odds are that they are also breaking them in other areas. "For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man" (Mark 7:21-23).

"Rice's findings are based on 1,839 students in Los Angeles high schools, most of who were Latino. Three-quarters of them owned a cell phone that they used regularly. On a survey sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, just over 40 percent of teens with a cell phone said they'd had sex, and about two-thirds used a condom the last time they did." [Reuters].

"Sexting, rather than functioning as an alternative to 'real world' sexual risk behavior, appears to be part of a cluster of risky behaviors among adolescents." [Pediatrics].

"Some adolescents perceive that sexting is a safer substitute to real life sexual activity, but others suggest that sexting may be viewed as a future expectation for engaging in sexual intercourse." [Pediatrics].

""Sexting appears to be a reflection or an indication of actual sexual behavior," Temple told Reuters Health. "What they're doing in their offline lives is what they're doing in their online lives."" [Reuters].

"Rice agreed that was the most important finding to take away from both studies. "That may be a no-brainer to some parents, but it may be alarming to others," he said. "This is a behavior that a minority of adolescents are engaging in, but that minority is engaging in a group of risky sexual behaviors… not just sexting."" [Christian Science Monitor].

Sexting is preceived to be a safe alternative to actual sex. Another person is not present so the chances of getting pregnant or passing a disease is zero. But what is being discounted is that it sets up a thought pattern of accepting sexual behavior with another person and it sends a message to others that you are willing to engage in sex. The danger in lust is not just in keeping your thoughts pure but also includes the danger of changing your future behavior. "But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Matthew 5:28).

You'll see some variance in numbers due to different groups being surveyed and what are the definitions. For example some define sexting as the sending of nude or seminude pictures, others define it as sexual communication in text form, and still others include both. Numbers will vary depending on what is actually asked.

"Fifteen percent of adolscents with cell phone access reported sexting, and 54% reported knowing someone who had sent a sext. Adolescents whose peers sexted were more likely to sext themselves (odds ratio = 16.87). Adolescents who themselves sexted were more likely to report being sexually active (odds ratio = 7.17). Nonheterosexual students were more likely to report sexting (odds ratio = 2.74), sexual activity (odds ratio = 1.52), and unprotected sex at last sexual encounter (odds ratio = 1.84)." [Pediatrics]

"In a study of young Hispanic women at a university in the southern United States, engaging in sexting was related to unprotected sex." [Pediatrics]

"In a sample of teenagers surveyed on the Internet in 2008, 20% of teenagers reported sending nude or seminude photographs of themselves, and 39% reported sending sexually suggestive text, E-mail, or instant messages." [Pediatrics]

It is important to teach our young people that our communication with others needs to be just as moral as our expected behavior. "But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them" (Ephesians 5:3-7). If it is wrong to do, it is just as wrong to talk about doing it.

But for parents, preachers, and elders the significance of this report is to realize that a person caught involved in sexting is highly likely to be involved in actual sexual acts with other people. Sexting cannot be ignored or downplayed.