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How to tell if your middle school teen is sexually active

Sexting teens more likely to be sexually active.
Sexting teens more likely to be sexually active.
Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

Want to know if your middle school teen(s) is sexually active? According to a new study published on June 30, the answers may be hiding in the smartphones or text-capable cellular phones. Researchers from the University of California found middle school teenagers were six times more likely to be sexually active if they received sexually explicit text messages (sexting) on their phones.

Just peek at the pictures lurking in their smartphones to see if they have been ‘sexting.’ Sexting is the behavior of sending sexually-charged pictures via any text-capable cellular phone. Sexting has become popular not only for adults, but now also for teens and middle school children which may indicate precocious behaviors.

The researchers sampled 1,300 middle school children in the Los Angeles area as part of a survey aimed at 'youth risk behaviors' for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The children involved in the study ranged from 10-15 years of age with the average being 12 years old. The findings suggest the urgency of an awareness between sexting and risky behaviors resulting in contagious infections amongst the younger population. The CDC reports an estimated 8,300 young people between 13 and 24 years old had an HIV infection in 2009.

Of the middle school teens who reported receiving a sext message, 23 percent also reported sending a sext message. That means if your middle school teens had a sext message on their smartphones, they were 23 percent more likely to have sent one to someone else. Furthermore, the study showed when teens texted over 100 times a day, they were more than twice as likely to have received a sext message and sent one, as well.

The researchers caution the study may have limits due to certain factors. The study relied on self-reported activities in addition to being restricted to the Los Angeles area. However, the researchers suggest further research on the association between technology use and adolescent sexual behaviors.