New York: Parents may wish to openly monitor cell phones of their kids, and check what types of messages they are receiving as researchers have found that kids who receive sexually suggestive text or photo - sexts - are likely to have had sex.
Young teenagers who reported receiving a sext were six times more likely to also report being sexually active, the findings showed.
"These findings call attention to the need to train health educators, pediatricians and parents on how best to communicate with young adolescents about sexting in relation to sexual behaviour," said lead author Eric Rice, an assistant professor at University of Southern California in the US.
"The sexting conversation should occur as soon as the child acquires a cell phone," Rice said.
The study anonymously sampled more than 1,300 middle school students in Los Angeles in the US. Respondents ranged in age from 10-15, with an average age of 12.3 years.
The researchers found that even when controlling for sexting behaviours, young teens who sent more than 100 texts a day were more likely to report being sexually active.
"Our results show that excessive, unlimited or unmonitored texting seems to enable sexting," Rice added.
Overall, 20 percent of students with text-capable cell phones said they had ever received a sext, and 5 percent report sending a sext.
The study appeared in the journal Pediatrics.