U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Adolescent Sexting Involvement Over 4 Years and Associations With Sexual Activity

NCJ Number
Journal of Adolescent Health Volume: 65 Issue: 6 Dated: 2019 Pages: 738-744
Date Published
7 pages

In order to examine how demographic factors, dating, and sexual behaviors are related to both initial and changing rates of sexting over time, this study analyzed sexting involvement among ethnically diverse adolescents over a 4-year period.


A total of 1,042 participants from seven public high schools throughout southeast Texas (Dating it Safe study) were asked yearly about sexting involvement, as well as sexual and dating behaviors. Using latent growth curve modeling, results revealed that males and White participants had greater initial involvement in sexting compared with females and Hispanic and other ethnicities, respectively. In addition, the study found that sexting significantly increased over the 4-year period. Finally, participants who had sex and who had more dating partners at each wave were significantly more likely to be involved in sexting than their counterparts, even after controlling for their initial sexting involvement. Involvement in sexting increases steadily from adolescence into emerging adulthood. This study extends prior research by identifying a longitudinal association between sexting and sexual activity. (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2019