'Sexting' may be just a normal part of dating for Internet generation

July 24, 2012 by Laura Bailey, University of Michigan

(Medical Xpress) -- For young adults today who were weaned on iPods and the Internet, the practice of "sexting," or sending sexually explicit photos or messages through phones, may be just another normal, healthy component of modern dating.

University of Michigan researchers looked at the sexting behavior of 3,447 men and women ages 18-24 and found that while sexting is very common, sexting isn't associated with sexually or with psychological problems.

The findings contradict the of sexting, which is often portrayed in the media and elsewhere as unsavory, deviant or even , said Jose Bauermeister, an assistant professor at the U-M School of Public Health and co-principal investigator of the study.

However, most of those negative stories involve sexting among pre-teens and teenagers, and the U-M study group was considerably older, said study co-author Debbie Gordon-Messer.

"For younger age groups, legality is an issue," Gordon-Messer said. "They are also in a very different place in their ."

This is the first known study to connect sexting with a behavioral outcome, Bauermeister said. Previous studies on sexting focus on demographic; in other words, who is doing the sexting, not how sexting impacts the health of the participants.

The researchers found that nearly half of the study respondents participated in sexting. Most people who reported receiving "sexts" also reported sending them, which suggests that sexting is reciprocal and likely happens between .

The researchers asked about the number of sexual partners with whom they have had unprotected sex. The participants who "sexted" did not report riskier sexual behavior than those who didn't. Nor did they report more depression, anxiety or low self-esteem, Bauermeister said.

In the larger picture, the sexting research is a very important piece of understanding how technology impacts sexuality and health, Bauermeister said.

"We have to keep paying attention to how technology influences our lives, including our sexuality and our sexual behavior," he said.

The study, "Sexting Among Young Adults" was produced jointly by the Sexuality and Health Lab, which Bauermeister directs, and the Prevention Research Center of Michigan, led by Marc Zimmerman, co-principal investigator on the study and a professor of public health and psychology. The U-M School of Public Health houses both centers. Alison Grodzinski of the Prevention Research Center of Michigan is also a co-author.

The paper will appear in an upcoming edition of the Journal of Adolescent Health.

Explore further: Sending sexually explicit photos by cell phone -- more common among teens than you might think

Related Stories

Sending sexually explicit photos by cell phone -- more common among teens than you might think

June 13, 2012
A significant number of teenagers are sending and receiving sexually explicit cell phone photos, often with little, if any, awareness of the possible psychological, interpersonal, and sometimes legal consequences of doing ...

Let your fingers do the talking: Sexting and infidelity in cyberspace

June 20, 2011
Although sex and infidelity are now only a keyboard away, at the end of the day, there is no substitute for physical, face-to-face contact in our sexual relationships. That's according to a new study by Diane Kholos Wysocki, ...

Nearly 30 percent of teens involved in sexting despite being 'bothered' by requests: study

July 2, 2012
Teens are sexting -- and at higher rates than previously reported. In the first study of the public health impact of teen sexting, researchers found that close to 30 percent are engaging in the practice of sending nude pictures ...

Concerns about teen sexting overblown, according to new research

December 5, 2011
Two new studies from the University of New Hampshire Crimes against Children Research Center suggest that concerns about teen sexting may be overblown. One study found the percentage of youth who send nude pictures of themselves ...

Recommended for you

Wine is good for you—to a point

January 18, 2018
The Mediterranean diet has become synonymous with healthy eating, but there's one thing in it that stands out: It's cool to drink wine.

Sleep better, lose weight?

January 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Sleeplessness could cost you when it's time to stand on your bathroom scale, a new British study suggests.

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

Improvements in mortality rates are slowed by rise in obesity in the United States

January 15, 2018
With countless medical advances and efforts to curb smoking, one might expect that life expectancy in the United States would improve. Yet according to recent studies, there's been a reduction in the rate of improvement in ...

Teens likely to crave junk food after watching TV ads

January 15, 2018
Teenagers who watch more than three hours of commercial TV a day are more likely to eat hundreds of extra junk food snacks, according to a report by Cancer Research UK.

Can muesli help against arthritis?

January 15, 2018
It is well known that healthy eating increases a general sense of wellbeing. Researchers at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have now discovered that a fibre-rich diet can have a positive influence ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.