Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Teen Health

Font Size

Teen Sexting Linked to More Sexual Activity

Teens Not Using Sexting to Delay Having Sex, as Some Have Suggested
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Sept. 17, 2012 -- "Sexting,'' the sending or receiving of sexually explicit messages or photos by cell phone, isn't an alternative to teens' sexual activity, but is actually linked to it, according to a new study.

"Sexting is part of the new landscape of the sex lives of teens," says researcher Eric Rice, PhD, assistant professor of social work at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles.

While some experts have suggested that sexting is an alternative to having sex for teens, this research suggests otherwise.

Teens who sexted were more likely to be sexually active, and some were more likely to engage in risky sex. He found that 15% of teens who had access to a cell phone had sexted, and 54% reported knowing someone who had sent a sext.

Rice says sexting should be addressed in sex education classes. The topic might also help parents open a conversation about sex with their teens, he says.

The study is published in Pediatrics.

Sexting & Sexual Behaviors: Details

Rice looked at data from more than 1,800 Los Angeles high school students. Most students were 14 to 17 years old.

They answered questions about their own sexting practices and those of their friends.

They reported on their sexual activity and safe sex practices.

Nearly 87% of the students described themselves as heterosexual. The others reported being gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or unsure of their orientation.

Those who had friends who sexted were much more likely to sext themselves, about 17 times more likely, Rice found.

And, "teens who sext are seven times more likely to be sexually active," he says.

Rice found differences between straight teens and other teens. Those who reported being non-heterosexual were nearly three times as likely to report sexting. They were 1.5 times more likely to report sexual activity and nearly two times as likely to have unprotected sex at their last encounter.

He cannot explain the differences, but speculates that the Internet may be an easier way to connect for non-heterosexual teens, who may fear stigma otherwise.

Most of the teens were Latino or Hispanic, while about a fifth were white or African-American. "I think we can say confidently, 'This is a good picture of urban youth,'" Rice says. "[But] this might not necessarily translate to rural youth."

Today on WebMD

unhappy teen couple
mini cupcakes
teen couple
girl running with vigor
Sugary drinks
teen wearing toning shoes
young woman texting
teen boy holding a condom
Teen girls eating ice cream
teen sleeping
couple kissing
Taylor Swift