The report explores the role of cell phones in the sexual lives of teens and young adults. According to survey data, 4 percent of cell-owning teens ages 12-17 say they have sent sexually suggestive nude or nearly nude images or videos of themselves to someone else via text messaging -- a practice also known as “sexting” --and 15 percent say they have received such images of someone they know via text message.
The report, which also provides findings from focus groups, explores the various scenarios in which sexting occurs. It finds that images are typically shared as either a part of or an alternative to sexual activity, a way of starting or maintaining a relationship with a significant other, or for entertainment value among friends. The report details pressures faced by teens to share these types of images, as well as factors that make teens more likely to send and receive graphic messages.
This report is part of a Pew Research Center series exploring the behaviors, values and opinions of the teens and twenty-somethings that make up the Millennial Generation. Data is based on the findings of six focus groups conducted in October 2009 and telephone surveys and interviews on teens’ and parents’ use of mobile phones.
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