A growing concern around the issue of teen "sexting" has led to the launch of a website designed to teach young people about the safe use of text messaging.

The website, textED.ca, has been set up by the Canadian Centre for Child Protection, in partnership with Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association.

It uses youthful graphics and language to let teens "get the 411" on all sorts of texting issues: unhealthy relationships, harassment, stress and trying to determine when a line has been crossed.

The term "sexting" refers to the sharing of nude photos, videos and chat by cellphone or online.

A poll conducted last fall by The Associated Press and MTV suggested that more than one-quarter of young people in the U.S. are "sexting."

The new website comes as a U.S. study released Wednesday found that young people have more access to mobile phones than ever.

The study by the California-based Kaiser Family Foundation found that 66 per cent of people between age eight and 18 owned a cellphone in 2009, up from 39 per cent in 2004. (The rate of those who own an iPod or other MP3 player has increased to 76 per cent from 18 per cent in the same time.)

Time consuming

The study also found that kids between grades 7 and 12 spend an average of more than 90 minutes a day sending or receiving text messages.

"The bottom line is that all these advances in media technologies are making it even easier for young people to spend more and more time with media," Victoria Rideout, foundation vice-president and director of the study, said in a release.

"It’s more important than ever that researchers, policymakers and parents stay on top of the impact it’s having on their lives," she said.

The study found that kids aged eight to 18 devoted an average of seven hours and 38 minutes to using entertainment media across a typical day (more than 53 hours a week), up from six hours and 21 minutes in 2004.

However, the study found that children consumed nearly three hours less media per day in households where parents set limits, compared with households where there were no rules on media use.

With files from The Canadian Press