Study suggests peer pressure is to blame for teenage sexting

Thanks to the advent of camera phones, sexting has become a growing trend among young people, and now researchers are looking into the motives behind sending sexually explicit photos to one another. According to research presented during the 2011 Australasian Sexual Health Conference in Canberra, peer pressure appears to be the main culprit behind why teenagers sext.

The study's authors reported that because peer pressure is such a major cause of sexting, it is important for teenagers to find their own voices and either speak up against it or have the understanding to deal with a problem should it occur.

"The phenomenon has become a focus of much media reporting; however research regarding the issue is in its infancy, and the voice of young people is missing from this discussion and debate," said the study's author Shelley Walker.

The researchers looked at 33 people between the ages of 15 and 20 and suggested that the sexualized media played a role in peer pressure of sexting. In terms of the peer pressure they faced, boys felt that if they did not have photos of girls on their phones or computers that they would either be labeled as gay or their friends would stop talking to them.

As for the girls in the study, they felt more subtle peer pressure. The researchers said that females who saw images of other girls may have felt as though it was an expectation for them to sext boys as well.

The researchers are hopeful that this study will help pave the way for addressing the sexting phenomenon when it comes to discussing teenage sexual health.

"Our study reveals how complex and ever-changing the phenomenon of 'sexting' is and that continued meaningful dialogue is needed to address and prevent the negative consequences of sexting for young people," Walker said.

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