Teens who engage in sexting are more likely to show signs of depression and anxiety

first_imgShare on Twitter This newer study adds to existing research by examining sexting behavior in adolescence with a longitudinal study. By comparing results from the start of the study to results from a one-year follow-up, researchers hoped to explore patterns of sexting over time and uncover mental health predictors for sexting behavior. They also looked at gender differences in sexting behavior and its association with risky behaviors such as alcohol use.Researchers recruited 359 high school students between the ages of 15-17 from seven schools in the country of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Students completed the Sexting Behavior Questionnaire and the Depression Anxiety and Stress Scale at the start of the study and again at the one-year follow-up.Results showed that the percentage of students engaging in sexting was almost identical at baseline and follow-up. The percentage of students sending sexts was around 31% at baseline and 32% one year later. The percentage of adolescents receiving sexts was roughly 63% at baseline and 64% at the one-year follow-up.At both baseline and follow-up, boys were more likely to report sending sexually explicit content than girls were. When it came to receiving content, differences were only found at the time of follow-up, when girls were more likely to receive sexts than boys. Boys were also more likely than girls to report sexting while consuming alcohol, with about 29% at baseline and 27% at follow-up. Only about 6% of girls reported sexting while drinking at baseline and 9% at follow-up.Overall, students who engaged in sexting behavior had more symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress. However, the results differed at baseline and follow-up. At the baseline study, stress was a predictor of sending sexts. At the follow-up, depression was a predictor of both sending and receiving texts.The authors suggest that these differences may reflect a change in the dynamic between sexting and mental health at different ages. In earlier adolescence, stress may have a stronger influence on sexting behavior, whereas, in late adolescence, depression may be a stronger risk factor.Researchers conclude that although many young people engage in sexting and it may fall within the range of normal behavior, it is nevertheless associated with certain mental health problems. The authors suggest that future longitudinal studies examine the pattern of this relationship more closely by including more time points between baseline and follow-up.“Our findings raise the important question of how to define sexting. Our definition is based on the aspect of exchanging sexually explicit content, but youth sexting should be redefined in terms of the reasons for sexting,” Dodaj told PsyPost.“Furthermore, our study also raises the question of a deeper understanding of the mechanisms underlying the relationship between sexting and psychological difficulties. Our data revealed differences in sexting predictors across time, which suggest that risk factor mechanisms of sexting differ across age groups. At middle adolescence, stress is more closely related to sexting, primarily to risk for receiving sexts, while at late adolescence sexting might be more likely associated with a depression risk factor. In the future, it is necessary to determine the nature of differential prediction patterns.”“It is important to focus on issues arising from contemporary social trends related to the development of technology and the impact of its development on youth behavior. Conducting such types of research will provide the information needed to implement a meaningful public policy, especially when it comes to education and health policy in creating effective interventions and prevention in the area of sexual behavior of young people,” Dodaj added.The study, “A Prospective Study of High-School Adolescent Sexting Behavior and Psychological Distress”, was authored by Arta Dodaj, Kristina Sesar, and Slavica Jerinić. New research suggests that sexting in adolescence is linked to symptoms of anxiety, stress, and depression. This evidence comes from a study published in The Journal of Psychology: Interdisciplinary and Applied.Sexting is defined as an exchange of sexually explicit content using technology, typically over cell phone or the internet. Previous literature reveals a debate on whether sexting should be seen as a deviant behavior, or rather a healthy expression of intimacy in adolescence. Research into the consequences of sexting has also been mixed, with some studies reporting an association with psychological issues and others showing no such link.“Electronic media, the internet and mobile devices have become important and frequently used resources among young people. In a time of rapid development of technology, relatively new behaviors of young people are emerging. One of the new patterns of behavior that requires a deeper understanding is sexting,” explained study author Arta Dodaj, a professor assistant at the University of Zadar in Croatia. LinkedIn Sharecenter_img Email Pinterest Share on Facebooklast_img read more