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Minerva Pediatrica 2015 February;67(1):1-9


language: Italian

Epidemiology of sexting

Pellai A. 1, Erba S. 2, Ciampelli A. 2, Iemmi D. 2, Bronzin S. 2, Capobussi M. 2, Degnoni V. 2, Gattoni M. E. 2, Corradin M. 2

1 Dipartimento di Scienze Biomediche per la Salute, Università degli Studi di Milano, Milano, Italia; 2 Scuola di Specializzazione in Igiene e Medicina Preventiva, Università degli Studi di Milano, Milano, Italia


AIM: Aim of the present study was to assess the prevalence of sexting, defined as “the sharing of images or videos of sexually explicit content”, identifying the age groups involved and assessing the possible cultural ties. The study also aimed at providing a clear picture of the phenomenon to educators and parents, an essential starting point for planning any effective educational program.
METHODS: We performed a literature search on Medline (PubMed) database. In addition, the 2011 and 2012 surveys released by Eurispes and Telefono Azzurro were also consulted. “Google Trends” application provided additional details.
RESULTS: In Italy teenagers from 12 to 18 years who received sexually oriented material increased from 10.2% in 2011 to 25.9% in 2012. In the USA 69.4% declared having received sexually oriented material, while 66.7% reported having sent it. In Italy, 1 out of 10 teenagers (age range 16-18) found himself in danger for having posted his nude photos online.
CONCLUSION: The practice of sexting involves a wide age range with different legal implications. Teenagers practice sexting to attract attention and prove to be involved in a relationship. Sexting usually does not have any consequence but in rare cases, about 4%, malicious behavior such as sexting for money, to tease or take someone under threat has been reported. Moreover, during the past decade the cases of online harassment increased, especially involving young women. Only by closely monitoring the phenomenon and studying its deeper motivations it could be possible to plan effective educational programs, integrating sexting and the correct use of new media into a structured sexual education project.

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