sextingA new study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics found that, contrary to public opinion, there is no direct link between sexting among teenagers and risky sexual behavior. Rather, the study suggests that sexting is merely a sign of sexual development and, in some cases, sexual activity. In short, sexting has become the new normal.

If sexting is the new normal, and teenagers communicate primarily via their phones, it stands to reason that sexting has become the new first date.

Andrea Miller, relationship expert and CEO of Your Tango, isn’t surprised by this new study. “Teenagers have always had a difficult time expressing themselves, which is why texting became popular in the first place,” she notes. “What concerns me is not that young adults are sexting, but that most of them are forgoing intimacy for the comfort of their smartphones, and that can have lasting implications on their relationships.”

Miller also notes that the idea of exchanging sexual content isn’t necessarily a new one. “The idea of give and take in early sexual encounters is no different than the ‘show me yours and I’ll show you mine’ of their parents’ generation. It’s just new that these encounters aren’t happening face-to-face anymore.” Andrea continues, “What’s worrisome is not that teenagers are exploring their sexuality, but that they’re doing so over platforms that aren’t secure. This isn’t your parents’ basement anymore.”

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