Ashamed of Sexting? You Shouldn’t Be

Sexting is just another healthy component of dating in the era of instant communication, according to a new study. The public perception of sexting, previously regarded as a deviant behavior, is gradually shifting. Sending sexually explicit photos or messages may be just a normal part of dating for the Internet generation.

Over 80 percent of survey respondents report sexting

According to a recent study presented at the American Psychological Association’s 123rd Annual Convention, the practice of sexting may be more common than generally thought among adults. More than 8 out of 10 people surveyed online admitted to sexting in the prior year.

“Given the possible implications, both positive and negative, for sexual health, it is important to continue investigating the role sexting plays in current romantic and sexual relationships,” said Emily Stasko, MS, MPH, of Drexel University, who presented the research.

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More adults embrace sexting in relationships

Researchers surveyed 870 participants across the US age 18 to 82 to sketch out the sexting phenomenon. Participants – of which just over half were women – were asked whether they were or not into this form of virtual love. Over 80 percent of the people surveyed reported having sent or received sexually suggestive or explicit content via smartphone in the past year.

Three quarters said they sexted in the context of a committed relationship whereas 43 percent as part of casual dating. Overall, greater levels of sexting were associated with an increase in both sexual and relationship satisfaction. Most sexters saw the behaviour as “fun and carefree” and had higher beliefs that sexting was expected in their relationships, researchers found.

“Sexting has received growing attention as a risky activity, associated with numerous other sexual risk-taking behaviors and negative health outcomes,” said Stasko. “This perspective, though, fails to account for the potential positive effects of open sexual communication with a partner”.

Why do we sext?

A previous study titled “Sexting Among Young Adults” by the University of Michigan looked at the sexting behavior of 3,447 men and women ages 18-24 and found that while sexting is very common, it isn’t associated with sexually risky behaviors or with psychological problems.

Jose Bauermeister, a co-principal investigator of the study, said the sexting research is a very important piece of understanding how technology impacts sexuality and health.

‘We have to keep paying attention to how technology influences our lives, including our sexuality and our sexual behaviour,’ he said.

Recent reports unveiled that even frexting – or friend sexting- is a thing now.

One woman, Alana Levinson, wrote about her experiences with frexting in Medium.

“It’s the extension of the very old idea that women dress up for each other,” she said. “Part of showing off is about sharing yourself with your girlfriends.”

Dangers of sexting: crime or flirting?

However, sexting isn’t for everyone. Sending or receiving a sexually suggestive text or image under the age of 18 is considered child pornography and can result in criminal charges in the US. Several states have enacted bills to protect minors from sexting. So, to any minor who wants to avoid potentially life-changing consequences, think twice before you press send on that sext.

Moreover, with kids online at increasingly younger ages, two issues have quickly climbed higher on the public’s list of major health concerns for children across the U.S: sexting and Internet safety. Sexting rose to #6 on the list of biggest health concerns, up from 13th in 2014, according to the latest National Poll on Children’s Health (NPCH).

Technology exposes younger generations to the danger of online predators and other harms like cyber-bullying. Sexting has reportedly led to cases of teens around the country suffering from low self-esteem and even committing suicide following pictures going viral among peers.

What do you think of the rise of sexting? Share your views in the comments section below.

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