Teen sexting: Leaving Cert students 30pc 'more likely' to engage in sexually explicit behaviour online - study
Sexting - the sending and receiving of sexually explicit images - is increasingly becoming the norm amongst teenagers.
By the time teenagers start the Leaving Cert cycle they're 30pc more likely to send sexually explicit images compared to when they firs start secondary school.
This is according to the Secondary School Digital Trend Report, complied by Zeeoko, an internet safety start-up company based in Nova UCD.
The study aimed to get an insight into teenage behaviour online and surveyed more than 3,200 second level students in 30 schools across Ireland.
Cyber-psychologist Dr Marina Everri said Dr Marina Everri said that the increase in sexting behaviour as teenagers progress through the school cycle should not be seen as alarming.
“We observed a progressive increase in sexting throughout secondary schools. This should not be considered as an alarming result, rather it should be interpreted considering adolescents’ developmental tasks and needs.
"Adolescence is a crucial phase in defining gender identity and sexual orientation. Adolescents explore sexuality, they are eager to meet peers and partners and establish romantic relationships.”
Dr Everri, who led the research, said that teenagers need to expand their social network outside of their families as they get older and this behaviour reflects that need.
However, she advised that parents need to understand how teenagers use technology to experiment sexually and warn their children of the potential risks involved.
The study found that 13pc have sent a nude/semi-nude content of themselves online and a total of 7pc of students have sent nude/semi-nude content of themselves to someone they had met online.
Some 14pc of students admitted to sexting someone who isn't their romantic partner.
The study found that boys are more likely than girls to engage in sexting with 17pc of secondary school male students admitting to sending nude/semi-nude content of themselves compared with 9pc of female students.
A total of 18pc of males and 8pc of females have sexted a non-partner, while 10pc of males sexted someone they met online, compared to 4pc of females.
The study found that sexting behaviours increased as the students progressed through secondary school. Some 4pc of first year students have sent a nude/semi-nude photo compared to 34pc of sixth year students.