Photograph by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images.
Don’t confiscate your teen's cellphone just yet.
Despite all the hype about "sexting," a new national study finds that just 1 percent of kids age 10-17 have actually sent explicit pictures of themselves or others via their cellphones, the Associated Press reports.
"Teen sexting isn't rampant, usually isn't malicious, and is generally not something parents should panic over," the study’s lead author, University of New Hampshire psychology professor Kimberly Mitchell, told the news wire.
The new study focused exclusively on pictures and not verbally explicit text messages. The rate of receiving suggestive or explicit images is slightly higher than the rate of sending, with 7 percent of the 1,560 respondents saying they had received sexual images.
Researchers also surveyed 3,000 police departments nationwide to see how law enforcement officers deal with sexting. During 2008 and 2009, about 4,000 instances of sexting were reported to police. About one-third of those cases ended in an arrest, usually for the older of the participants.
Researchers are also questioning whether sexting may be a phenomenon more associated with twentysomethings. A previous study surveying young adults aged 14 to 24 found a much higher rate of sexting, with about 1 in 5 participants admitting to sending or receiving explicit texts or images.