Bottom Line: A sizable number of young people under 18 engage in sexting, the practice of electronically sharing sexually explicit material, with an estimated 1 in 7 sending sexts and 1 in 4 receiving them.
Why The Research Is Interesting: There is a lack of consensus on the frequency of sexting among young people but that information is needed to inform policy and future research.
Who and When: 110,380 participants from among 39 studies identified in a review of research literature from 1990 to 2016
What (Study Measures): Frequency of sending and receiving sexts, as well as forwarding a sext without consent and having one's sext forwarded without consent
How (Study Design): This was a meta-analysis. A meta-analysis combines the results of multiple studies identified in a systematic review and quantitatively summarizes the overall association between the same exposure and outcomes measured across all studies.
Authors: Sheri Madigan, Ph.D., of the University of Calgary, Canada, and coauthors
Study Limitations: A larger sample size would yield more precise estimates and this meta-analysis focused solely on the frequency of sexting and not on factors that predict a desire to engage in sexting.
Related Material: This article is accompanied by the editorial, "Sexting - Prevalence, Sex and Outcomes," by Elizabeth Englander, Ph.D., and Meghan McCoy, Ed.D., of Bridgewater State University in Massachusetts, and the JAMA Pediatrics Patient Page, "What Parents Need to Know About Sexting." Both are available on the For The Media website.
For more details and to read the full study, please visit the For The Media website.
Editor's Note: The article contains funding/support disclosures. Please see the article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, financial disclosures, funding and support, etc.
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