HOUSTON - An eye-opening new study shows just how many teens have sent nude pictures of themselves by text or email.
The study by the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston surveyed 1,000 high school students from the Houston area.
The study found nearly a third of high school students they surveyed have "sexted."
Perhaps what's most alarming for parents about the study is that teenage girls who engaged in sexting were a lot more likely to take part in risky sexual behavior. Researchers found that 28 percent of the boys and girls surveyed had sent nude pictures of themselves through email or text message. Fifty-seven percent had been asked to send a nude picture. Thirty-one percent asked for a nude picture to be sent to them.
"It really makes my stomach turn to think that high percentage at this time, and I blame it all on the Internet," said parent Tommie Garza.
The study is the first to explore the public health impact of sexting. Psychologist D. Jeff Temple is the lead author.
"If it was just between a boyfriend and girlfriend and it ended there, then that might not be as problematic. But when it gets disseminated to a larger audience, that's where we need start being more concerned." he said.
Temple said parents should use the study as a way to talk to their kids about of the dangers sexting and it's consequences.
Plans for another study are in the works -- one that looks at sexting and it's connection to depression and anxiety.
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