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Story Updated: Sep 18, 2012
It's either sending or receiving sexually explicit text messages or pictures on a cell phone.
We know it can be embarrassing and even illegal in some cases, but researchers at the University of Southern California wanted to know if it was dangerous to the health of teenagers.
Using data from anonymous questionnaires filled out by more than 18-hundred high school students in Los Angeles, the researchers assessed whether the sexting led to the real thing.
Of those students with access to a cell phone...15-percent admitted to sexting and 54-percent said they knew someone who had "sexted." Those who said they'd "sexted" themselves were much more likely to become sexually active, including having unprotected sex.
Researchers say sexting appears to be part of a cluster of high risk teen behaviors, rather than an alternative to the real thing.... The team suggests future sex education programs be developed with sexting discussions as part of the program.
The complete study is included in the October issue of the journal Pediatrics.
I'm Dr. Cindy Haines of HealthDay TV, with the news doctors are reading, health news that matters to you.