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

July 24, 2012 by Laura Bailey

(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

To reduce postoperative pain, consider sleep—and caffeine

August 18, 2017
Sleep is essential for good mental and physical health, and chronic insufficient sleep increases the risk for several chronic health problems.

Despite benefits, half of parents against later school start times

August 18, 2017
Leading pediatrics and sleep associations agree: Teens shouldn't start school so early.

Doctors exploring how to prescribe income security

August 18, 2017
Physicians at St. Michael's Hospital are studying how full-time income support workers hired by health-care clinics can help vulnerable patients or those living in poverty improve their finances and their health.

Schoolchildren who use e-cigarettes are more likely to try tobacco

August 17, 2017
Vaping - or the use of e-cigarettes - is widely accepted as a safer option for people who are already smoking.

Federal snack program does not yield expected impacts, researchers find

August 17, 2017
A well-intentioned government regulation designed to offer healthier options in school vending machines has failed to instill better snacking habits in a sample of schools in Appalachian Virginia, according to a study by ...

Study shows cigarette makers shifted stance on nicotine patches, gum

August 17, 2017
The use of nicotine patches, gum, lozenges, inhalers or nasal sprays—together called "nicotine replacement therapy," or NRT—came into play in 1984 as prescription medicine, which when combined with counseling, helped ...

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.