Masturbation has long been considered a normal sexual behavior for children, and now the first nationally representative study of the practice finds — er, confirms — that teen boys, more so than girls, do it early and often. Masturbation is no laughing matter, argues lead author Dr. It remains highly stigmatized and receives little serious attention, but her research shows that it can also influence teens in other aspects of sexuality. Teens who masturbate, for example, also seem to be more likely to have sex with a partner and to practice safe sex, according to the research, which was published online this month in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. The adolescents ranged in age from 14 — by which time masturbation prevalence is pretty high — to Teens and their parents were asked how frequently they had masturbated during the previous three months, the previous year and in general. They also responded to questions about condom use and if they masturbated alone or with a partner.