News Release 

Is sexting associated with sexual behaviors, mental health among teens?

JAMA Pediatrics

Bottom Line: This study, called a systematic review and meta-analysis, combined the results of 23 studies with nearly 42,000 participants to summarize associations between sexting by adolescents, sexual behavior and mental health risk factors. The results suggest sexting was associated with sexual activity, multiple sex partners, a lack of contraception use, delinquent behavior, anxiety/depression, alcohol and drug use, and smoking. Some associations between sexting, sexual behaviors and mental health factors were stronger in younger compared with older adolescents. This kind of study can only suggest correlations, not causation, and other variables, such as intention and context, can mediate the observed associations. For example, sexual exploration among adolescents is normal, sexting can have relatively harmless intentions and sexting within the context of a romantic relationship may not indicate risky behavior. That's why more research is needed to understand what the intersections of sexting, sexual behaviors and mental health risk factors mean.

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Author: Sheri Madigan, Ph.D., of the Unversity of Calgary, Canada, and coauthors

(doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2019.1658)

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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