Deakin University

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Sexting Among Australian Adolescents: Risk and Protective Factors

journal contribution
posted on 2023-07-31, 23:52 authored by Dominika HowardDominika Howard, Hannah K Jarman, Elizabeth M Clancy, Heidi M Renner, Rachel Smith, Bosco Rowland, John ToumbourouJohn Toumbourou, Matthew Fuller-Tyszkiewicz, Bianca Klettke
AbstractAlthough consensual sending of sexts between adolescents is considered developmentally appropriate, it may also entail a range of negative consequences. Current sexting research lacks a comprehensive theoretical framework identifying a range of risk and protective factors underpinning adolescent consensual sending of sexts across individual, interpersonal, and distal levels. Further, there is a lack of systematic evaluation of how the importance of these factors may vary across adolescent age. This study investigated the utility of the Social Development Model to predict a range of risk and protective factors across individual, family, peer, school, and community-level factors. The sample included 1302 teenagers from Victoria, Australia (Mage = 14.54, SD = 1.14, 50.8% girls). Results indicated that 146 (11.7%) participants sent a sext (76 boys and 70 girls). Logistic regression analyses revealed that the Social Development Model accounted for 45.8% of variance in sexting, with greater likelihood of sending sexts being associated with older age, prior sexual activity, school sector, physical activity, lifetime substance use, greater depressive symptoms, sensation seeking, and perceived substance availability in the community. Multigroup analyses revealed that lifetime substance use was associated with a greater likelihood of sending sexts among younger teens. Among older adolescents, adaptive coping was associated with reduced engagement in sexting, while higher parental overcontrol and family conflict increased the odds of sending sexts. Overall, sexting is associated with a range of modifiable factors potentially amenable to intervention.



Journal of Youth and Adolescence


United States








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