Adolescent sexting, psychosocial difficulties, and risk behaviour

The association between adolescent sexting, psychosocial difficulties and risk behavior

From The Journal of School Nursing

Adolescent sexting is a serious school safety risk that is associated with several types of health risks and a range of psychosocial conditions. Sexting can be situated in adolescents’ relationship formation process and their sexual development.  Sexting can be defined as the exchange of “sexually explicit content communicated via text messages, smartphones, or visual and web 2.0. activities such as social networking sites”. This paper reviews several studies on adolescent sexting and its health and emotional correlates. It is important that teachers, school nurses, school administrators, parents and educators are informed about the research on adolescent sexting in order to better be able to distinguish the facts from the media hype this review enables them to do so.



When a sexting message spreads to an unintended audience, it can adversely affect the victim’s reputation. Sexting incidents constitute a potential school safety risk. Just as with other types of adolescent risk behavior, school nurses might have to initiate the first response when a sexting episode arises, but a school nurse’s role goes beyond intervention. They can also play an important role in the prevention of sexting and its related risks. This article reviews the links between adolescent sexting, other types of risk behavior, and its emotional and psychosocial conditions. Seven databases were examined and nine studies remained for further review. The review of the literature shows that adolescent sexting is cross sectionally associated with a range of health-risk behaviors. Youth who engage in sexting are also found to experience peer pressure and a range of emotional difficulties. The results can guide school nurse education and practice.

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Article details
Joris Van Ouytsel, Michel Walrave, Koen Ponnet, and Wannes Heirman
The Association Between Adolescent Sexting, Psychosocial Difficulties, and Risk Behavior: Integrative Review The Journal of School Nursing 1059840514541964, first published on July 15, 2014 doi:10.1177/1059840514541964


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