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12/11/2008
10:58 AM
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Teens Post, Send Nude Pix As Sexy Presents

Survey shows that one in five young people post and send sexually revealing photos, sometimes exchanging images with those they haven't met in person.

One in five teen girls has sent a revealing photograph of themselves via cell phone or e-mail or posted nude or partially nude images of themselves online, according to a survey released this week.

Eleven percent of them are 16 or younger.

The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy and CosmoGirl.com teamed up to survey 1,280 teens and young adults, ages 13 to 26, from Sept. 25 through Oct. 3. They released a 20-page report on their "Sex and Tech" (PDF) survey Wednesday.

"Teenagers are early adopters of technology -- from the latest social networking sites to the hottest new cell phones," Susan Schulz, special projects editor for Hearst Magazines, said in a statement. "While this tech savvy can be seen as a positive, our study reveals there's also a negative side. Teenagers should be aware of the real consequences to this type of behavior and we need to provide them with guidance and encourage them to make smart choices."

Twenty-one percent of girls and 18% of boys said they have posted nude or partially nude pictures of themselves online. Forty-nine percent of teens and young adults have sent sexually suggestive text messages or e-mails of themselves. Fifteen percent of teens who sent sexually suggestive content said they have done so with someone they only know online.

Two-thirds of teen girls who sent or posted sexually suggestive content said they did it to be fun or flirtatious. Fifty-two percent said they wanted to give a sexy present to their boyfriends, and 40% said they did it as a joke.

The survey found that the pictures get around. One-third of teen boys and one-fourth of teen girls said they have seen nude or partially nude photos because someone shared an image that the sender meant to keep private.

The report stated that young people's online behavior seems to affect their behavior in real life, with more than one in five teens saying technology makes them personally more forward and aggressive. More than one-third of teens said that exchanging sexy content makes dating or hooking up more likely. Nearly one-third said they believe that people exchanging sexy content are expected to date or hook up.

"That so many young people say technology is encouraging an even more casual, hook-up culture is reason for concern, given the high rates of teen and unplanned pregnancy in the United States," Marisa Nightingale, senior adviser to the Entertainment Media Program at the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, said in a statement. "Parents should understand that their own notions of what's public, what's private, and what's appropriate, may differ greatly from how teens and young adults define these concepts."

This article was edited on 12/19 to correct the survey's data.

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