More People Love Sexting Than You Think

by Pamela J. Hobart

If you got the sense that basically everyone is sexting, you were spot on. New research suggests that almost nine in 10 of American adults have sexted, so sexting is definitely the new normal now. "Sexting," the practice of sending sexually explicit photos or language via text message, is probably here to stay (at least until some better technology comes along... sexy holograms, perhaps). But is sexting helping or hurting our relationships? The answer is a little complicated.

Previous studies in adolescents suggested that sexting doesn't replace high-risk sexual behaviors — it's associated with more of them. Sexting in adolescents also correlated with lower self-esteem and more substance use. But we can't just assume that adults are sexting exactly the same way as teens, so newer research sheds more light on the matter.

Emily Stasko, a psychologist at Drexel University in Philadelphia, will present her team's findings on sexting at a meeting of the American Psychological Association in Toronto. Having surveyed almost 900 American adults ranging in age from 18 to 82, the researchers found that they were sexting in a somewhat different manner than the adolescents — though even more prolifically.

Of the adults who were surveyed, 88 percent said they had sexted ever, and I guess they liked it because 82 percent had sexted within the past year (as compared to the previous studies on adolescents, which showed that no more than a third of them had sexted, and probably closer to just 10 or 15 percent). While 43 percent of the adult sexters did some sexting in the context of a casual relationship, 75 percent of them sexted in the context of a committed relationship. (Obviously, some people have done both!)

So, basically adults are taking the now-commonplace advice to spice up their sex lives by sexting quite seriously. And it's working, too — high levels of sexting within a relationship were generally associated with higher levels of sexual and relationship satisfaction. This just proves the very common sense point that some behaviors are best reserved for grown adults. While today's adolescents largely experience sexting as a fraught temptation or subject of peer pressure, today's adults have incorporated sexting into their love lives in a fun, hopefully responsible way. Just brush up on your sexting skills, and double check before you send.

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