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Cable television's favorite teen crisis, sexting, is back in the news again. According to a new study by the Education Development Center in Newton, Massachusetts, teenagers who sext are more likely to have symptoms of depression.
The researchers surveyed over 23,000 high school students in the suburbs of Boston. Two of the questions on the survey asked if in the past year, the teens had ever felt "so sad or hopeless almost every day for two weeks or more in a row that you stopped doing some usual activities," and whether they had tried to kill themselves.
The sexters (who made up a pretty low portion of the sample) were more than twice as likely to report depressive symptoms as their non-sexting peers. They were also more likely to have attempted suicide.
The study also found that girls whose sexts were spread often turn to frightening self-harming behavior like "cutting, bulimia, burning themselves, pulling out eyelashes or pubic hair." Furthermore, teens who identified as gay, lesbian, or bisexual or had had sex were more likely to send provocative photos.
But here are the really groundbreaking findings:
- Girls whose sexts are posted everywhere tend to feel a "horrid" sense of shame and betrayal.
- Boys who receive these photos, by contrast, really don't experience any emotional consequences.
- The "most egregious" cell-phone activity happens between the hours of midnight and 5 a.m.
I know you're probably still reeling from the shock that sexy pics get sent after dark and that girls whose sexts are publicized feel ashamed and/or betrayed, but luckily, adolescents and teen dating abuse specialist Dr. Jill Murray has a solution. Parents just need to lock their teens' phones in their bedroom when the kids go to sleep. Because if there's anything teens like more than sexting, it's strict parental control.