Sexting is a pretty common part of the digital dating landscape. It’s a great way to pretend you are a naughty, scantily-clad sex puppy when you are really chilling in your sweats and binging some Netflix (or voting on bills based on ‘family values’). Plus, if you take the bangingest nude or lewd, you can send it to multiple people and that kind of action would take considerable time IRL. You get maximum flirtation utility from a minimal effort, and that is a major selling point.
Let’s face it, sexting is a lot of fun. And, it’s no surprise that teens, who are arguably the most well versed in digital communication are doing it, too. A recent study reveals one in seven teens are sending sexts and one in four are receiving them.
Published February 26 in JAMA Pediatrics, “Prevalence of Multiple Forms of Sexting Behavior Among Youth: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis” based its results on data the authors drew from 39 research studies produced globally between 2009 and 2016. This body of research represents studying 110,000 teens.
As the availability and ownership of smartphones have increased, sexting has risen. However, the numbers show that actual teen sex, on the other hand, has declined during this same period. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that the percentage of teens who are sexually active has gone down from 47% in 2011 to 41 percent.
In addition, the study revealed some interesting patterns. Older teens are the ones doing most of the sexting, with younger teens much less likely to participate. And, while one might assume boys are more likely to be requestors and aggressors, boys and girls are equally likely to get their sext on. When it comes to the preferred mode of sext transport, the large majority of young people are using their smartphones over their computers.
Researchers suggest sexting is pretty normal behavior for young people developing in the digital age. Especially among older teens, dirty pics and messages match up perfectly with their increasing interest in their own sexuality and the development of their identity.
But, given the fact that sexts are so often shared without the sender’s permission and that teen sexting is illegal in places, it’s important for young people to be educated in the best ways to get wild via the phone. Parents have to teach digital citizenship and stay engaged with their children. Plus, like any sexual activity, it should all be consensual. Nobody wants a pic of your junk that they didn’t ask for.