Sexting in adults more common than previously thought
Researchers suggest continuous investigation of role of sexting in romantic and sexual relationships.

Sexting, which was once thought to be limited to a few individuals out of a group, is a more common practice according to a new study with over 80 per cent of people believed to be sexting.

According to a new study recently presented at the American Psychological Association’s 123rd Annual Convention more than either out of 10 people who participated in an online survey admitted to sexting in the prior year with researchers suggesting that its role in romantic and sexual relationships needs continues investigation.

Emily Stasko, MS, MPH, of Drexel University, who presented the research at the convention, and her co-author, Pamela Geller, PhD, associate professor of psychology, ob/gyn and public health at Drexel University, carried out an online survey with 870 participants from the United States age 18 to 82 to assess sexting behaviours, sexting motives, and relationship and sexual satisfaction. More than half of these participants were women.

Researchers, for the study, defined sexting as the sending or receiving of sexually suggestive or explicit content via text message, primarily using a mobile device. Participants were asked if they had ever engaged in such behaviors and their attitudes toward sexting.

Researchers found that 88 per cent of participants had sexted at least once and 82 per cent participants had sexted in the past year. Surprisingly, 43 per cent participants said that they had sexted as part of a casual relationship, while nearly 75 per cent said they sexted in the context of a committed relationship.

Additionally, the researchers found that greater levels of sexting were associated with greater sexual satisfaction, especially for those in a relationship. Participants who identified as single (26 per cent) had significantly lower overall scores for sexual satisfaction.

The researchers also found that greater levels of sexting were associated with relationship satisfaction for all but those who identified their relationship as “very committed.”

As far as attitude towards sexting goes, people who sexted more saw the behaviour as more fun and carefree and had higher beliefs that sexting was expected in their relationships.

Sexting has received growing attention as a risky activity, associated with numerous other sexual risk-taking behaviours (e.g., unprotected sex) and negative health outcomes (e.g., sexually transmitted infections), said Stasko. This perspective, though, fails to account for the potential positive effects of open sexual communication with a partner.

“This research indicates that sexting is a prevalent behavior that adults engage in for a variety of reasons,” said Stasko. “These findings show a robust relationship between sexting and sexual and relationship satisfaction.”