If you’re a parent, it’s natural to be worried about your teen. The world can seem like a dangerous place, and you want to raise a safe, responsible, confident young person. But if you see a racy text on your teen’s phone, you may not want to rush to judgment, though. It may not be as dangerous as you think.
A recent study in The Lancet investigated sexting between teens. The researchers looked at data from 40 studies involving more than 100,000 teenagers, and they found that 15% of teens ages 12 to 17 had sent sexts and 27% of teens had received sexts.
This isn’t too surprising, considering how many teens have smartphones now, but it still could be concerning.
A study shows that consensual sexting "in a committed partnership might be indicative of healthy exploration." https://t.co/EFBNzfRmkd
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) June 29, 2019
Researchers had some difficulties because studies didn’t distinguish between sexts sent with consent and sexts sent without consent, which is a critical difference. Unwanted texts can lead to depression and anxiety.
Texts sent with consent and in the context of a committed relationship between older teens didn’t have a negative impact, though. It’s normal and healthy for teens to explore their sexuality, and, given the alternatives, it’s actually a fairly safe and responsible way to explore.
Researchers did point out that comprehensive sex education that includes information on healthy relationships is vital to teens learning how to have healthy sexual relationships. If your local schools don’t provide comprehensive sex education, then parents need to talk to their children about setting boundaries and having healthy relationships.
So don’t freak out if you see a sext to or from your teen. Use it as an opportunity to have an awkward but honest conversation about sex and boundaries.