Sexts are the new cigarettes. According to a groundbreaking new study, teens sext each other for the same reason they do everything else: to be popular. “We were intrigued by the fact that most teens appear aware of the potential risks of sexting, but nevertheless still commit to producing and distributing nude or semi-nude pictures of themselves to their peers,” says study co-author Dr. Mariek Vanden Abeele. Because teens never do anything risky despite understanding the consequences (*cough* unprotected sex *cough*).
The study was based on extensive interviews with adolescents that “examined how four key aspects of peer group dynamics, namely same-sex popularity, other-sex popularity, perceived peer pressure and need for popularity, are associated with sexting and mobile porn use among teenagers ages 11-20.” The results found that teens experience pressure from peers to participate in sexting and “mobile porn” culture. In doing so, they enjoy increased popularity and social status.
In other unsurprising news, girls who sent sexts founding increased popularity among their male peers and decreased popularity among female peers, while boys who sexted found increased popularity with both groups. It seems that slut-shaming is alive and well among high schoolers, as is the idea that only boys look at porn. “[M]obile porn use was reported almost exclusively by male respondents, particularly by boys who experienced greater peer pressure.” Study authors were able to conclude that teens perceived the short-term benefits of sexting to outweigh the “potential long-term risks associated with these behaviors.” Can we all let out a collective, “Kids these days…”