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Originally published Thursday, October 24, 2013 at 6:20 PM

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Survey: Sexting, digital harassment drop among youth

Fewer teens and young adults have received sexual messages or other forms of “sexting” than a few years ago, according to a new survey of nearly 1,300 people ages 14 to 24.

Los Angeles Times

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LOS ANGELES — Stop the presses: There’s some good news about teens and sexting.

Fewer teens and young adults have received sexual messages or other forms of “sexting” than a few years ago, according to a new survey of nearly 1,300 people ages 14 to 24.

Two years ago, 32 percent said they had been involved in some form of sexting; this year that number fell to 26 percent.

Pollsters also found fewer numbers of teens and young adults had suffered from digital rumors, spying or other harassment.

For instance, the share of young people who had been victimized by someone logging into their email, Facebook or other social-media accounts and impersonating them online fell from 21 percent to 15 percent between 2011 and 2013.

In all, the survey found the percentage of young people who had weathered some kind of “digital abuse” had fallen from 56 percent to 49 percent.

The survey released Thursday by MTV and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research used online panels to survey young Americans about their digital habits.

Teens and young adults who did not have Internet access were provided with laptops and an Internet connection. Researchers then compared the results to two earlier rounds of the survey.

Not everything has changed, the survey found. Teens and young adults reported much less progress on “digital dating abuse,” such as a boyfriend or girlfriend reading their text messages without permission, or making them remove exes on social-networking sites.

Young people were still about as likely to have shared naked photos or videos of themselves as in the past, the survey found.

But compared with four years ago, teens and young adults are now less than half as likely to have sent such photos to someone they only know online.

In addition, fewer young people said they had received naked photos or videos of someone else or were pressured by someone to send naked photos or videos of themselves, the survey showed.

Why are those numbers dropping? It might be that young people take online harassment more seriously. Teens and young adults are increasingly aware that digital abuse is destructive, the survey found, with 72 percent calling it a big problem that should be addressed.

Young people have also become more likely to turn to their families for help. This fall, 44 percent of teens and young adults surveyed said they had gone to a family member when someone harassed them online, an increase from the 35 percent who did so in 2011. More than half said telling family improved the situation.

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