What is the Average Age That a Teen Starts Sexting?
It's really hard to be a parent and try to relate to what childhood is like for my kids. I know what it was like to be a tween and teen back in the 20th century, not what it's like today.
Now, kids go through puberty earlier, become sexually active sooner, and start exploring the concept of what it means to be “sexy” at a younger age.
When I first heard of sexting years ago, I figured it was mostly a high school activity. Actually, the onset of sexting starts a lot earlier than that.
According to one 2009 study, the age breakdown of kids 18 and under who sext goes like this:
- 13 year-olds: 9%
- 14 year-olds: 13%
- 15 year-olds: 17%
- 16 year-olds: 18%
- 17 year-olds: 24%
- 18 year-olds: 20%
In this study, at least, sexting is the most prevalent among the older high school crowd. But it also begins much earlier, as early as 13 years old. These findings mean that almost a quarter of sexting happens in middle schools.
It's also interesting to see a few of the questions posed to the teens in the study. 74% of them agreed that “people my age are too young to be sending sexts of themselves.” But 52% of them agreed that “people my age are old enough to decide for themselves whether it is all right for them to send a sext of themselves.”
Of course, teens who actually had sent sexts of themselves were much more likely to say that people their age were old enough to decide for themselves.
I think my daughter is too young to have even heard about sexting yet. But I suppose if anything is to be learned here, it's that I should ask just in case.
Jenny Evans is a mother of four and a freelance writer specializing in parenting, childhood, and family issues.