Consensual sexting among adolescents: Risk prevention through abstinence education or safer sexting?Nicola Döring
Keywords: sexting; sexually explicit user generated content; cell phone; gender; bullying; media education
Sexting is a 21st-century neologism and portmanteau of "sex" and "texting" that refers to the interpersonal exchange of self-produced sexualized texts and above all images (photos, videos) via cell phone or the internet (Albury, Crawford, Byron, & Mathews, 2013; Calvert, 2009; Chalfen, 2009; Ferguson, 2011; Katzman, 2010; Pew Research Center, 2009). As cell phones and other mobile devices today are ubiquitous and usually come with a camera as well as a picture messaging service (MMS) or even a full internet connection it is easier than ever before to produce and distribute self-made pictures including sexualized self-portraits. Among the various types of self-produced revealing cell phone photos, some are taken in swimwear or in underwear, some are topless/semi-nude, some are naked images of body parts or the whole body, and some depict sexual activities (e.g. masturbation). The spectrum of expression is thus relatively large, and the degree of sexualization quite variable and often low (Calvert, 2009; Mitchell, Finkelhor, Jones, & Wolak, 2012). The exchange of sexualized pictures that are not self-produced (e.g. pornographic images from the internet) does not belong to the category of sexting.
Consensual sexting needs to be differentiated from pressuring or blackmailing someone into providing sexual pictures as well as from the act of taking or forwarding revealing pictures without the consent of the person(s) in the image, which is a violation of personal rights in many countries.
While "sexting" is the established term in public and academic discourses, youths usually do not talk about sending "sexts" or "engaging in sexting." They simply refer to "exchanging pictures," "taking sexy selfies," or for more explicit content "sending/getting a tit pic/dick pic," etc. (Albury, Crawford, Byron, & Mathews, 2013, p. 8; Lee, Crofts, Salter, Milivojevic, & McGovern, 2013, p. 45; Lumby & Funnell, 2012; see Urban Dictionary: www.urbandictionary.com).
The emergence of sexting has been regarded primarily as a sexuality-related youth phenomenon. The predominant interpretation is that sexting represents a high-risk sexualized media behavior, and that the young internet generation is paying too little attention to its harmful consequences (Draper, 2012; Hua, 2012; Ostranger, 2010; Sadhu, 2012; Srinivas, White, & Omar, 2011). In recent years significant media attention has been devoted to a number of cases of teenage girls who killed themselves after sexts they had sent to their current crushes or boyfriends became public and they were shamed, ridiculed, and harassed by their peers (for press reports on the cases of Jessica Logan and Hope Witsell, see Agomuoh, 2012; Celizic, 2009; Inbar, 2009; Kotz, 2009).
Against the backdrop of these discourses and concerns about risky adolescent sexting behavior, the current study addresses the following three research questions:
RQ1: How prevalent is sexting among adolescents as opposed to adults?
Prevalence data comparing minors and adults can help us to understand the role of this new type of sexual communication across the lifespan.
RQ2: What are the risks and opportunities of consensual sexting?
Previous research on youth's risky online and/or mobile communication stresses that risks often go hand in hand with opportunities ("risky opportunities," Livingstone, 2008). Therefore, to better understand sexting as one specific type of risky mobile content creation it seems advisable to analyze the current state or sexting research in terms of both risks and opportunities related to the phenomenon (Livingstone, Haddon, Görzig, & Ólafsson, 2011: 14).
RQ3: Which educational sexting-risk prevention messages are currently disseminated?
Both public and academic discourses have been stressing the need to educate youth, parents, and teachers about sexting risks. However, sexting risk reduction messages haven’t been analyzed or critically discussed in terms of their content.
Answering these three research questions can help to better assess current realities with regard to sexting and move towards an evidence-based approach to sexting risk prevention.
To answer the research questions three different methodological approaches were used: a) a summary of primary studies on sexting prevalence, b) a systematic literature review on sexting risks and opportunities, and c) a content analysis of sexting risk prevention messages distributed by educational campaigns.
Data Collection on Sexting Prevalence
Relatively few empirical studies have been conducted to date concerning how many adolescents and how many adults are participating in sexting. It was possible to identify ten empirical studies reporting sexting prevalence rates among minors of different age groups (five of them based on national representative samples) and seven empirical studies reporting sexting prevalence rates among adults (none of them based on national representative samples). Their main results are presented in tables 1 and 2. It should be noted that within the scope of this paper no systematic meta-analysis was conducted. The available prevalence rates were descriptively summarized. In spite of heterogeneity in a) samples, b) data collection methods, and c) definitions of sexting (for details see tables 1 and 2), consistent overall trends appeared.
Data Collection on Risks and Opportunities of Consensual Sexting
The APA literature database PsycINFO was searched for all peer-reviewed journal articles addressing "sexting" (with the search term "sexting" in the title or abstract of the paper) that were published until the end of 2013. A pool of 48 peer-reviewed journal articles on sexting was built. An equivalent database search was performed for PubMed that returned 29 studies – 27 of them were already in the study pool; the two missed papers were added. Altogether, the study pool contained 50 peer-reviewed empirical and theoretical sexting papers (including editorials and comments) from various disciplines such as psychology, medicine, sociology, law, and related fields, demonstrating growing research attention to this issue (2009: 1; 2010: 3; 2011: 8; 2012: 15: 2013: 23 papers; see Appendix). For each of the 50 papers, the citations (author names and years) and main topics (very brief summaries) as well as the target groups (minors or adults) are provided in Appendix. The papers were grouped according to their theoretical framing of sexting as deviant behavior associated with different risks (deviance discourse) and/or as normal intimate communication in the digital age associated with different opportunities (normalcy discourse). Details on sexting risks and/or opportunities addressed by the papers are provided below. It should be noted that within the scope of this paper no formal discourse analysis was conducted. The dichotomy between deviance and normalcy in discussion around sexting is acknowledged by other sources, however (e.g. Chalfen, 2010; Levine, 2013; Lim, 2013; Wiederhold, 2011).
Data Collection on Sexting Risk Prevention Messages
An internet search engine was used to find educational online materials on sexting published by official sources (search terms like "sexting campaign," "sexting prevention," and "sexting education"). A corpus of ten English-language sexting education websites addressed to youths, parents, and/or teachers were identified (see table 3). Each campaign website usually consisted of several web pages and downloadable materials (e.g. PDF files). All materials at each website were inspected and coded in October 2013 regarding five main content categories. These categories were derived both deductively from the sexting literature and inductively from the material (see table 3):
• Type of sexting risks: Which types of sexting risks are covered by the campaign materials? Five types of risks were differentiated and coded separately (yes/no): legal risks (e.g. prosecution under child pornography laws), social risks (e.g. bullying, humiliation), educational risks (e.g. exclusion from school sports teams, loss of educational scholarship), career risks (e.g. loss of job offers), and abuse risks (e.g. sexual harassment, grooming by adults).
• Gender of sexters: The gender of sexters was coded as female (mainly female sexters were depicted in the materials, especially in the examples and videos), male (mainly male sexters), or both (female and male sexters); other gender identities – e.g. transgender – were not visible.
• Sexting abstinence message: Does the campaign website recommend complete sexting abstinence to avoid sexting risks (yes/no)?
• Safer sexting message: Does the campaign website recommend safer-sexting strategies to avoid sexting risks (yes/no)?
• Anti-forwarding/Anti-bullying-message: Does the campaign website provide messages that address unauthorized forwarding of private sexts (e.g. legal and ethical aspects of forwarding) and bullying related to the dissemination of intimate pictures to prevent one of the main sexting risks (yes/no)?
Two independent trained coders used the pretested coding system to code the ten campaigns' messages with the campaigns as the units of analysis. Inter-coder agreement was computed using Cohen's kappa coefficient. The final kappa coefficient was between 0.61 and 1.00 (mean kappa .89). Table 3 offers the very first overview of educational sexting campaigns and their main messages.
On the internet, youths are exposed not only to official sexting education campaigns, but also to peer advice. To complement educational messages with peer advice, available data from the research literature and examples from media culture were researched and presented. Within the scope of this paper no systematic content analysis of peer advice messages was possible. The exploration of sexting tips shared among adolescent and adult sexters nevertheless is helpful to contextualize and scrutinize educational messages.
Prevalence of Sexting in Minors and Adults
The existing prevalence data for youth are quite divergent (2.5%–21%), as the surveys are based on different age groups, different types of samples, different data collection methods, and different single-item sexting measures (see table 1; half of the reported studies are peer-reviewed: 2, 4, 8, 9, 10; another half of the studies are based on representative national samples of the respective age groups: 1, 2, 3, 5, 6). The ten studies reported in table 1 indicate a mean prevalence rate of 13.9% for minors 9–18 years old. Apparently, the majority of minors in the U.S. (79%–97.5%) do not sext. Sexting usually is an interactive behavior, about 9% of minors are only passively involved in sexting.
semi-/nude cell phone pictures.
The ten sexting studies reported in table 1 are ordered by lowest to highest age and show increasing sexting prevalence with increasing age. Regarding adult sexters, empirical data are scarce as well. The seven sexting studies reported in table 2 are (with three exceptions: 2, 3, 7) based on young adult samples from the U.S. and, again, use different age groups, different sample types, different data collection methods, and different single-item sexting measures (see table 2; total values were not computed because of the divergence of the study pool).
Existing empirical studies have produced the following three main findings regarding sexting prevalence:
1. Sexting among minors occurs relatively seldom; depending on the study, between 2.5% and 21% of minors in the U.S. report having sent a least one sext (see table 1). With increasing age and sexual experience young people's involvement in sexting steadily increases (see table 1; Dake, Price, Maziarz, & Ward, 2012; Gordon-Messer, Bauermeister, Grodzinski, & Zimmerman, 2012; Livingstone, Haddon, Görzig, & Ólafsson, 2011; Strassberg, McKinnon, Sustaíta, & Rullo, 2013). While children very rarely receive sexts (4% of 12-year-olds in the U.S.), teenagers get more involved the older they grow: 20% of 16-year-olds and 30% of 17-year-olds in the U.S. report having received a sext (Pew Research Center, 2009: 5–6). The same trend applies to the sending of sexts: 3% of 12-year-olds as opposed to 32% of 18-year-olds in the U.S. report having sent a sext (Dake et al., 2012).
2. With current prevalence rates between 30% and 54% in different, non-representative samples, sexting is much more common among adults in the U.S. than among minors (see table 2; prevalence rates in European samples from Germany and Spain were lower).
3. Both male and female cell phone/internet users engage in sexting. Females of all age groups usually report being slightly more active sexters than males (see table 1 and 2).
Risks and Opportunities of Consensual Sexting
The internet and the cell phone are integral parts of contemporary adolescent life, and thus invariably play a crucial role in sexual communication, exploration, and personal sexual development (Pascoe, 2011). Consensual sexting between adolescents, which is one specific type of sexualized mobile communication, has often been framed as risky and deviant behavior that is associated with other problematic behaviors like alcohol use or promiscuity. Different types of sexting risks are addressed in the literature, and different explanations for supposedly deviant involvement of youth in sexting have been offered.
Yet sexting has also been framed as a normal contemporary form of intimate communication in romantic and sexual relationships between adults as well as between adolescents who are exploring and growing into adult relationships. Different opportunities of consensual sexting in different relational contexts are addressed in the literature and different explanations for supposedly normal involvement of youth in sexting are offered.
An article titled "Sexting: A terrifying health risk … or the new normal for young adults?" in the Journal of Adolescent Health perfectly mirrors the deviance versus normalcy dichotomy in discourses around sexting (Levine, 2013; see also Draper, 2012). While more nuanced frameworks that look at both risks and opportunities in terms of "risky opportunities" do exist (Livingstone, 2008; Livingstone, Haddon, Görzig, & Ólafsson, 2011: 14), a more comprehensive theoretical elaboration of the risks and opportunities associated with sexting behaviors in different populations is just beginning to emerge.
Consensual Sexting and its Risks: The Deviance Discourse
According to the predominant theoretical framework, sexting is a new type of deviant sexualized behavior in youth that is associated with many risks (Ahern & Mechling, 2013; Benotsch, Martin, Snipes, & Bull, 2013a; Draper, 2012; Hua, 2012; Judge, 2012; Korenis & Billick, 2013; O'Keeffe, Clarke-Pearson, & Council on Communications and Media, 2011; see Appendix). Of the 50 academic sexting papers (2009–2013) from the PsycINFO and PubMed databases, the majority (33/50: 66%) address sexting as a problematic and unhealthy behavior in minors and adults. Of the papers that specifically address minor/adolescent sexting, 79% (27/34) frame the behavior as problematic, while 37% (6/16) of the papers discussing adult sexting adopt a deviance frame. Papers in pediatrics, psychiatry, nursing, clinical psychology, and criminology often use the deviance frame.
The main sexting risks for adolescents that are covered by the literature are unwanted dissemination of private sexts and subsequent bullying by peers (in extreme cases up to the point of suicide) as well as exclusion from educational and career opportunities if a private sext becomes public (Ahern & Mechling, 2013; Hua, 2012; Korenis & Billick, 2013). That privately exchanged sexts at some point "go viral" and are forwarded to third parties or published on the internet against the will of their original authors is typically regarded as very likely if not inevitable. Additionally, the legal risk of criminal prosecution under child pornography laws (e.g. in the U.S. and Australia) is emphasized (Wolak, Finkelhor, & Mitchel, 2012). The aforementioned types of risks are mainly formal and informal sanctions against adolescent sexting when it becomes public or at least known to authorities (e.g. some peers discriminate against females sexters as "sluts"; some schools exclude adolescent sexters from sports teams; some states prosecute adolescent sexters as child pornographers).
Another line of research is concerned with sexting risks that occur even if the sexting is kept perfectly private: Sexual texting is likened to a "gateway drug" (Diliberto & Mattey, 2009) that leads to other forms of risky or inappropriate sexual behavior such as promiscuity, unsafe sex, or sexual infidelity. Sexting behavior is placed in a context of adolescent impulsivity, bad judgment, sensation seeking, and problematic alcohol and drug use. Sexting is seen as a manifestation or moderator of problematic and age-inappropriate sexual behavior (Dir, Cyders, & Coskunpinar, 2013).
Still another line of research is concerned with the link between sexting and sexual objectification as well as between sexting and sexual violence. The production and exchange of sexualized pictures is regarded as the unhealthy objectification especially of teenage girls that can be harmful in itself (Jewell & Brown, 2013; Maurović & Knežević, 2012) and can put minors at risk of sexual molestation and abuse by peers or adults (Fontenot & Fantasia, 2011; Hua, 2012).
Adolescent involvement in risky and deviant sexting behavior is mainly explained by a) thoughtlessness, b) peer pressure, and c) high-risk personality traits. Risk prevention is urgently requested. Usually it is implied that youth need to be better educated about the possible negative consequences of sexting (especially the different types of social and legal sanctions against adolescent sexters) so that they can overcome thoughtlessness and peer pressure.
Consensual Sexting and its Opportunities: The Normalcy Discourse
The dominant deviance discourse around sexting is challenged by a growing normalcy discourse that interprets consensual sexting as a normal contemporary form of sexual expression and intimate communication in romantic and sexual relationships (17/50 papers: 34%). Of the papers addressing specifically minor/adolescent sexting, 21% (7/34) frame the behavior as normal, while 63% (10/16) of the papers discussing adult sexting adopt a normalcy frame. In the age of the internet and mobile devices, intimate communication – as an integral part of building and maintaining romantic and sexual relationships – takes place via different channels, including face-to-face communication, telephone calls, e-mails, and text and photo messages. Sexting is understood within the normalcy frame as regular intimate communication mediated by current communications technology, and as such, as the creative production of erotic material within the framework of contemporary media culture (Hasinoff, 2013; Karaian, 2012). The normalcy frame is particularly adopted by papers in the disciplines of cultural, media, communication, sexuality, and gender studies as well as in law (these disciplines are only partially covered by the PsycINFO and PubMed databases; see Albury & Crawford, 2013; Curnutt, 2012; Lim, 2013; Lumby & Funnell, 2012).
One indicator of the normalcy of sexting is its popularity among adults, whose behavior cannot be explained by adolescent bad judgment or peer pressure. Another normalcy indicator is the occurrence of sexting in all types of romantic and sexual relationships, including committed relationships (Drouin, Vogel, Surbey, & Stills, 2013). The strongest predictor for sexting in both adult and teenage populations is often simply being in a romantic relationship.
The main opportunities associated with consensual sexting are the mutual expression of sexual desire and affection, playfulness, pleasure, as well as bonding and trust (e.g. Hasinoff, 2013; Karaian, 2012). In contrast to the deviance discourse's claims that sexting is dangerous because all private sexts will eventually go viral, most adult and adolescent sexters handle erotic pictures mutually exchanged with their romantic partners with care and discretion; only 3% of adolescent sexters reported unwanted dissemination of a private sext (Cox Communications, 2009, p. 38). Trust is regarded by youth as one of the most important features of their romantic relationships (Gala & Kapadia, 2013).
In the realm of digital communications (texting, online chatting, and sexting) adolescents explore their sexual desires, identities, and relationships, and learn to communicate and deal with sexual feelings. Using mediated channels (as opposed to face-to-face communication) to disclose sexual emotion can be helpful in dealing with insecurity and shyness. Involvement in romantic and sexual relationships is part of growing up. Exercising sexual agency and emancipating oneself from childhood roles and parental control are developmental tasks in adolescence, and can explain involvement in sexting (Angelides, 2013; Simpson, 2013).
The normalcy discourse points out that sexting is not consistently correlated with risky behavior or mental health problems (e.g. Ferguson, 2011; Gordon-Messer et al., 2013). Some studies even reveal positive correlations between sexting and sexual as well as relationship satisfaction (e.g. Ferguson, 2011; Parker, Blackburn, Perry, & Hawks, 2013).
From the perspective of the normalcy frame, the deviance discourse is conceived as another example of mass media-fuelled moral panic regarding adolescent sexuality (e.g. Angelides, 2013; Draper, 2012; Hasinoff, 2013; Karaian, 2012). Criticizing the moral panic around adolescent sexting doesn't mean to deny the existence of problems related to this type of behavior, but stresses the need to investigate carefully both the downsides and benefits of consensual sexting experienced by all parties involved.
Harsh legal consequences in some countries (e.g. the U.S. and Australia) are one main reason why sexting is so dangerous for adolescents. Yet such legal sanctions are being increasingly questioned by legal experts, who point to adolescents' right to exercise sexual agency (e.g. Angelides, 2013; Ostrager, 2010; Simpson, 2013).
Another main reason why sexting is so dangerous especially for female adolescents is the widespread sexual double standard and the "slut shaming" of sexually active girls. While the deviance frame warns girls not to engage in sexting, the normalcy discourse defends female sexual agency and attributes the problem of bullying and stigmatizing not to the allegedly deviant girl but to a misogynist culture that at the same time demands feminine sexiness but punishes and shames girls for their normal sexual expression (Hasinoff, 2013; Karaian, 2012; Ringrose, Harvey, Gill, & Livingstone, 2013).
Prevention of Sexting Risks
In general, digital media literacy is gained through media education offered by various sources, such as parents, teachers, and educational campaigns, as well as through personal exploration and peer learning. When it comes to sexting risk prevention, adolescents today are exposed to different prevention messages. Focusing on online prevention messages that are disseminated by websites and social media channels, we can differentiate between official educational campaigns and peer advice. Thus far, the content, dissemination, and effects of different types of sexting risk-prevention messages have not been systematically investigated. This study starts off by looking at the content of official sexting risk-prevention messages.
Abstinence Messages in Educational Campaigns
Ten official sexting education campaigns on the internet (initiated by different organizations) could be identified (see table 3). The campaigns cover five different types of sexting risks: 1) legal (e.g. criminal prosecution under child pornography laws), 2) social (e.g. bullying by peers if the sext goes viral), 3) educational (e.g. exclusion from educational opportunities if the sext goes viral), 4) career (e.g. exclusion from career opportunities if the sext goes viral), and 5) abuse (e.g. sexual molestation by adults if the sext goes viral). Almost all of the campaigns address social (10/10) and legal (9/10) risks. Educational, career, and abuse risks are mentioned by only about half of the campaigns. Campaigns emphasize the emotional distress that the different negative consequences will create.
While 4 of the 10 campaigns address female and male adolescents as sexters, 6 campaigns present exclusively or primarily females as risky sexters. The typical sexting scenario that is depicted by the campaigns involves a girl who sends a sext to a current or former boyfriend because he asks for one, sometimes by pressuring her. All of the ten campaigns offer abstinence messages that underscore the risks of sexting can only be prevented by refraining from such behavior. Only one of the ten campaigns offers a safer sexting message: "If you must take them [i.e. sexy selfies], save—don't send—and share in-person, on your device only" (Campaign 1, see table 3).
At campaign websites (see table 3) and in books (e.g. Hinduja & Patchin, 2012), official positions in the field of media education are dominated by calls for abstinence from sexting based on drastic scare scenarios involving a sext that has gone viral through unauthorized dissemination:
Anyone could come across or find the images, such as your future employer or even your mum or dad! Even scarier, they could still be out there when you have kids of your own! You will also be making yourself more vulnerable to people who use technology as a way to access and abuse young people, or more commonly you could be bullied for sending indecent images. You could also be committing an offence under child pornography legislation ("ThinkUKnow," campaign 10, Appendix; www.thinkuknow.org.au/kids/sexting.asp).
Youths and especially girls are told by the sexting risk-prevention messages that even a single revealing photo, if it ends up in the wrong hands, can never be recalled, will destroy their reputation, and bring about severe negative legal, social, educational, and career consequences, and may even lead to sexual abuse by adults. Only five of the ten campaigns discuss third parties who illegally forward private sexts and participate in bullying, thus providing anti-forwarding and anti-bullying messages.
Several campaigns specifically frame sexting as a problematic behavior of girls, and some engage in female victim blaming (see videos of campaigns 3, 8, 10). Legal experts (Salter, Crofts, & Lee, 2013) as well as teenage girls in focus group discussions (Albury, Crawford, Byron, & Mathews, 2013) have recently drawn attention to the problematic tendency for public discourse and educational campaigns to blame female victims, rather than bullies.
It is noteworthy that 9 out of 10 educational campaigns emphasize and affirm the illegality of adolescent sexting while at the same time more and more legal experts question and condemn the criminalization of adolescent sexting, especially prosecution under child pornography laws in the U.S. and Australia (Chalfen, 2009; Crofts & Lee, 2013; Day, 200; Karaian, 2013; Lee, Crofts, Salter, Milivojevic, & McGovern, 2013; Stone, 2011).
Some authors point out that the overall sexting abstinence messages of official education campaigns are at odds with a) adolescents' romantic and sexual lives, which include many examples of responsible sexting behavior within their personal relationships, and with b) the ongoing debate among teenagers about the ethical aspects of sexting (Albury & Crawford, 2013). While adolescents frame the exchange of sexts within their romantic relationships as an expression of trust and intimacy, official campaign messages essentially claim that you can never trust your romantic partner, especially not your male partner if you are a teenage girl. It is important to give attention to gender power imbalances, however – the campaigns' depictions of heterosexual adolescent relationships ("he" is asking/pressuring "her" to sext) run the risk of affirming sexual gender stereotypes. It is also important to note that all of the 10 sexting risk prevention campaigns solely discuss heterosexual cisgender youth.
Safer Sexting Messages in Peer Advice
Apart from the official educational sexting campaigns, the internet and many social media channels offer abundant peer advice on sexting risk prevention. This peer discourse usually does not focus on complete sexting abstinence, but rather asks about sexting "rules," "etiquette," "safety," and "ethics" (Albury & Crawford, 2013; Oravec, 2012). A content analysis of online forum discussions on sexting risk prevention revealed three main tips shared between young sexters (Döring, 2012):
1. Reciprocity and trust: Do not engage in one-sided sexting, where you are the only one to send pictures, but do it reciprocally with a trustworthy partner.
2. Anonymous pictures: Sexting images can be anonymized if you simply do not show your face or any other identifying features (e.g. tattoos) in the picture.
3. Legal action against unwanted picture dissemination: If anyone threatens to show your private pictures around or to put them on the internet, then this would be a criminal act. Do not let yourself be intimidated, but instead, let them know you are going to take legal action. If someone has distributed pictures without your consent, seek the support of parents and teachers and take aggressive measures against them, including legal action.
Peer advice on sexting can be found on online discussion forums as well as at video portals like YouTube. Among the most popular sexting videos are parodies and advice videos. For example, the young comedian Timothy DeLaGhetto in 2010 published a video clip called "Sexting Rules – The D*ck Pic," which has more than 2.2 million views and more than 4,000 comments (as of October 2013). The video recommends anonymous pictures ("never put your face in a dick pic").
Since sexting has become quite popular among adults (see section on sexting prevalence) self-help articles and books on how to sext safely are available for them (e.g. advice books like O'Hanlon, without year; Ravenscraft, 2013). Sexting within couple relationships between adults is now often seen as one possibility for enhancing and adding erotic novelty to a relationship (e.g. advice books like Kitt, 2012). Yet this raises the question as to whether it is realistic and helpful to depict sexting within the romantic and sexual relationships of adolescents and emerging adults as unequivocally bad and dangerous, instead of discussing the individual and organizational conditions and prerequisites for consensual and ethical sexting behavior.
This paper first summarized existing data on sexting prevalence (17 studies), which revealed that sexting is much more common among adults than among youth, with adolescents steadily getting more involved with growing age.
The paper then looked at the current state of sexting research by reviewing all 50 sexting papers in the PsycINFO and PubMed databases published between 2009 and 2013 regarding their coverage of the risks and/or opportunities of sexting. Most of the papers (79%) address adolescent sexting as risky behavior and link it to sexual objectification and violence, to risky sexual behavior, and to negative consequences like bullying by peers and criminal prosecution under child pornography laws. In opposition to this deviance discourse around adolescent sexting a normalcy discourse is appearing in the literature that interprets sexting as normal intimate communication within romantic and sexual relationships, both among adults and adolescents exploring and growing into adult relationships. The deviance discourse is deconstructed by the normalcy stance as an expression of a "moral panic" regarding adolescent sexuality.
Third, this paper analyzed the sexting risk-prevention messages of 10 online educational campaigns. This analysis revealed that the campaigns primarily rely on scare scenarios, stress the risks of bullying (10 out of 10 campaigns) and criminal prosecution (9 out of 10), engage in female victim blaming, and recommend complete abstinence from sexting.
Some limitations of the presented data need to be kept in mind: Available sexting prevalence rates are predominantly based on U.S. samples, representative data for adult populations are missing, and sexting definitions vary between studies. A recent systematic literature review (Klettke, Hallford, & Mellor, 2014) that was published after the submission of this paper reports sexting prevalence rates for adolescents (10.20%; 95% CI [1.77%–18.63%] based on 12 studies) and for adults (53.31%; 95% CI [49.57%–57.07%] based on 12 studies) that are very similar to the results reported in this study.
The academic sexting papers extracted from the PsycINFO and PubMed databases are also most often from the U.S. or other Western countries. Sexting papers from European and non-Western countries need to be included in future literature reviews for a more complete picture of the current state of sexting research, particularly because the legal regulations and cultural norms regarding sexting differ between countries. Additionally, differences between academic disciplines and their theoretical framing of adolescent sexting should be further examined. The same applies to the analyzed sexting risk prevention campaigns: Not only should a broader spectrum of online and offline sexting risk prevention campaigns be analyzed, future studies should engage in input, process, and outcome evaluations.
Further research is necessary to better understand the risks and opportunities of sexting in adolescents' and adults' romantic and sexual lives, including non-heterosexual and non-cisgender populations. To move towards effective sexting risk prevention programs it is necessary to create evidence-based risk prevention messages for different target groups.
Based on the analysis of contemporary sexting practices and problems discussed in this paper, a turn from the dominant educational recommendation of sexting abstinence to safer sexting education should be considered. First, the safer sexting approach would be in line with the general safer sex approach endorsed by many sex education programs (for a critical analysis of different sex education approaches see Kendall, 2013). Such an approach should a) foster adolescents' individual skills of resisting peer pressure and making conscious decisions about if, when, how, and with whom to have sex and/or to sext consensually and responsibly, and b) build a safer environment by taking more effective anti-bullying measures at the school and community levels, and by avoiding punishment and stigmatization for consensual age-appropriate sexual exploration.
Second, many adolescents who already know about possible negative outcomes still engage in sexting. Teenagers exchange safer sexting tips (e.g. use of anonymized pictures; using apps like Snapchat that automatically deletes pictures after a couple of seconds). These technical measures can be helpful but have limits (e.g. Snapchat's "deleted" photos can be retrieved and screenshots can be made). More importantly, research finds that youth do engage in moral discourses about consensual and ethical sexting practices (e.g. protection of the sexting partner's privacy). Official educational campaigns could cover selected content from peer advice instead of ignoring this discourse (for suggestions of possible new educational messages see Hasinoff, without year).
Third, sexting risk prevention messages need to be checked for gender issues. Gender stereotyping and female victim blaming should be avoided. Instead, adolescents should be educated about the mechanisms of gender power inequalities, sexual double standards (Kraeger & Staff, 2009), victim blaming (Fein, 2011), slut shaming (Attwood, 2007), sexual violence, homophobia, etc. Girls' sexual empowerment (Petersen, 2009) should be facilitated, and more effective gender-sensible anti-bullying measures both at the individual and organizational levels need to be established (e.g. collecting and publishing good practice examples for stopping the unauthorized dissemination of a particular private sext and protecting a female victim against bullying at school).
Fourth and lastly, both academics, health care providers, educators, and public policy officials dealing with adolescent sexting need to engage in more meta-reflection of their different (sometimes very polarized) implicit and explicit norms regarding "healthy" and "normal" as opposed to "risky" and "deviant" adolescent sexualities. Controversies about the legitimacy of adolescent sexing mirrors general debates about appropriate sex education and sexual values, especially when it comes to girls who are often seen as either asexual or hypersexual and sexually victimized (APA, 2007; Fields, 2008; Lerum & Dworkin, 2009; Vanwesenbeeck, 2009). Clearly, many questions still pervade the issue of how to move towards an evidence-based approach to sexting risk prevention that acknowledges both adolescents' vulnerability and sexual agency.
Appendix can be found here.
Agomuoh, F. (2012). Amanda Todd suicide doesn't end cyber torment for ridiculed teen. International Business Times, October 15, 2012. Retrieved from: http://www.ibtimes.com/amanda-todd-suicide-doesnt-end-cyber-torment-ridiculed-teen-846827.
Agustina, J. R. , & Gómez-Durán, E. L. (2012). Sexting: Research criteria of a globalized social phenomenon. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 41, 1325-1328. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10508-012-0038-0
Ahern, N., & Mechling, B. (2013). Sexting: Serious problems for youth. Journal of Psychosocial Nursing and Mental Health Services, 51(7), 22-30. http://dx.doi.org/10.3928/02793695-20130503-02
Albury, K., & Crawford, K. (2012). Sexting, consent and young people's ethics: Beyond Megan's Story. Journal of Media & Cultural Studies, 26, 463-473. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10304312.2012.665840
Albury, K., Crawford, K., Byron,P., & Mathews, B. (2013). Young People and Sexting in Australia. Ethics, Representation, and the Law. University of New South Wales, Australia. Retrieved from: http://jmrc.arts.unsw.edu.au/media/File/Young_People_And_Sexting_Final.pdf
Angelides, S. (2013). Technology, hormones, and stupidity: The affective politics of teenage sexting. Sexualities, 16, 665-689. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1363460713487289
APA [American Psychological Association] (2007). Report of the APA Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls. Washington, DC: APA. . Retrieved from: http://www.apa.org/pi/women/programs/girls/report-full.pdf
Attwood, F. (2007). Sluts and riot grrrls: Female identity and sexual agency. Journal of Gender Studies, 16, 233-247. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09589230701562921
Bauermeister, J. A. (2013). "Significant and non-significant associations between technology use and sexual risk: A need for more empirical attention": The author replies. Journal of Adolescent Health, 53, 148-149. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2013.04.017
Bauermeister, J. A., Yeagley, E. M., Meanley, S., & Pingel, E. S. (2013). Sexting among young men who have sex with men: Results from a national survey. Journal of Adolescent Health. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2013.10.013
Benotsch, E. G., Martin, A. M., Snipes, D. J., & Bull, S. S. (2013a). Sexting, substance use, and sexual risk behavior in young adults. Journal of Adolescent Health, 52, 307-313. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2012.06.011
Benotsch, E. G., Martin, A. M., Snipes, D. J., & Bull, S. S. (2013b). Significant and non-significant associations between technology use and sexual risk: A need for more empirical attention. Journal of Adolescent Health, 53, 147-148. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2013.03.028
Calvert, C. (2009). Sex, cell phones, privacy, and the first amendment: When children become child pornographers and the lolita effect undermines the law. CommLaw Conspectus: Journal of Communications Law and Policy, 18, 1-66.
Celizic, M. (2009). Her teen committed suicide over ‘sexting’. Cynthia Logan’s daughter was taunted about photo she sent to boyfriend. MSNBC Today, 6 March 2009. Retrieved from: http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/29546030/ns/today-parenting
Chalfen, R. (2009). 'It's only a picture': Sexting, 'smutty' snapshots and felony charges. Visual Studies, 24, 258-268. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14725860903309203
Chalfen, R. (2010). Commentary: Sexting as adolescent social communication. Journal of Children and Media, 4, 350-354. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17482798.2010.486144
Comartin, E., Kernsmith, R., & Kernsmith, P. (2013). "Sexting" and sex offender registration: Do age, gender, and sexual orientation matter? Deviant Behavior, 34, 38-52. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01639625.2012.707534
Cox Communications (2009). Teen Online & Wireless Safety Survey. Cyberbullying, Sexting, and Parental Controls. Retrieved from: http://ww2.cox.com/wcm/en/aboutus/datasheet/takecharge/2009-teen-survey.pdf
Crofts, T., & Lee, M. (2013). 'Sexting', children and child pornography. The Sydney Law Review, 35, 85-106. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1461444812459171
Curnutt, H. (2012). Flashing your phone: Sexting and the remediation of teen sexuality. Communication Quarterly, 60, 353-369. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01463373.2012.688728
Dake, J., Price, J., Maziarz, L., & Ward, B. (2012). Prevalence and correlates of sexting behavior in adolescents. American Journal of Sexuality Education, 7, 1-15. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15546128.2012.650959
Day, T. (2010). The new digital dating behavior—sexting: Teens’ explicit love letters: Criminal justice or civil liability. Hastings Communications and Entertainment Law Journal, 33, 69-96.
Delevi, R., & Weisskirch, R. (2013). Personality factors as predictors of sexting. Computers in Human Behavior, 29, 2589-2594. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2013.06.003
Diliberto, G. M., & Mattey, E. (2009). Sexting: Just how much of a danger is it and what can school nurses do about it? NASN school nurse, 24, 262-267. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1942602X09348652
Dir, A., Cyders, M., & Coskunpinar, A. (2013). Form the bar to the bed via mobile phone: A first test of the role of problematic alcohol use, sexting, and impulsivity-related traits in sexual hookups. Computers in Human Behavior, 29, 1664-1670. http://dx.doi.org/10.1089/cyber.2012.0545
Döring, N. (2012). Erotischer otoaustausch unter Jugendlichen: Verbreitung, Fuktionen und Folgen des Sexting [Erotic Photo Exchange among Teenagers: Popularity, Functions and Consequences of Sexting]. Zeitschrift für Sexualforschung, 25, 4-25. http://dx.doi.org/10.1055/s-0031-1283941
Draper, N. (2012). Is your teen at risk? Discourses of adolescent sexting in United States television news. Journal of Children and Media, 6, 221-236. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17482798.2011.587147
Drouin, M., & Landgraff, C. (2012). Texting, sexting, and attachment in college students’ romantic relationships. Computers in Human Behavior, 28, 444-449. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2011.10.015
Drouin, M., Vogel, K. N., Surbey, A., & Stills, J. R. (2013). Let's talk about sexting, baby: Computer-mediated sexual behaviors among young adults. Computers in Human Behavior, 29, A25-A30. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2012.12.030
Emeagwali, N., Bailey, R., & Azim, F. (2012). Textmania: Text messaging during the manic phase of bipolar I disorder. Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved, 23 , 519-522. http://dx.doi.org/10.1353/hpu.2012.0062
Farber, B. A., Shafron, G., Hamadani, J., Wald, E., & Nitzburg, G. (2012). Children, technology, problems, and preferences. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 68, 1225-1229. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jclp.21922
Fein, H. (2011). Judging victims: Why we stigmatize survivors, and how they reclaim respect. Contemporary Sociology A Journal of Reviews, 40, 27-28. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0094306110391764i
Ferguson, C. (2011). Sexting behaviors among young Hispanic women: Incidence and association with other high-risk sexual behaviors. The Psychiatric Quarterly, 82, 239-243. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11126-010-9165-8
Fields, J. (2008). Risky Lessons: Sex education and social inequality. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.
Fontenot, H. B., & Fantasia, H.C. (2011). Issues and influences on sexual violence within the adolescent population. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, & Neonatal Nursing: Clinical Scholarship for the Care of Women, Childbearing Families, & Newborns, 40, 215-216. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1552-6909.2011.01216.x
Gala, J., & Kapadia, S. (2013). Romantic relationships in emerging adulthood: A developmental perspective. Psychological Studies, 58, 406-418. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s12646-013-0219-5
Gordon-Messer, D., Bauermeister, J., Grodzinski, A., & Zimmerman, M. (2013). Sexting among young adults. Journal of Adolescent Health, 52, 301-306. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2012.05.013
Harrison, M. (2011). College students' prevalence and perceptions of text messaging while driving. Accident Analysis and Prevention, 43, 1516-1520. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.aap.2011.03.003
Hasinoff, A. (2013). Sexting as media production: Rethinking social media and sexuality. New Media & Society, 15, 449-465. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1461444812459171
Hasinoff, A. (without year). Sexting Tips. Retrieved from: http://amyhasinoff.wordpress.com/sexting-tips/
Hensel, D. J. (2012). Text messaging and adolescents: Clues to promoting sexual rights. Journal of Adolescent Health, 51, 203-204. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2012.07.001
Hinduja, S., & Patchin, J. (2012). School Climate 2.0: Preventing Cyberbullying and Sexting One Classroom at a Time. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Sage.
Hua, L. (2012). Technology and sexual risky behavior in adolescents. Adolescent Psychiatry, 2, 221-228. http://dx.doi.org/10.2174/2210676611202030221
Inbar, M. (2009). ‘Sexting’ bullying cited in teen's suicide. 13-year-old Hope Witsell hanged herself after topless photos circulated. MSNBC Today, 2 December 2009. Retrieved from: http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/34236377/ns/today-today_people.
Jewell, J., & Brown, C. (2013). Sexting, catcall, and butt slaps: How gender stereotypes and perceived group norms predict sexualized behavior. Sex Roles, online first. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11199-013-0320-1
Judge, A. (2012). "Sexting" among U.S. Adolescents: Psychological and legal perspectives. Harvard Review of Psychiatry, 20, 86-96. http://dx.doi.org/10.3109/10673229.2012.677360
Karaian, L. (2012). Lolita speaks: "Sexting", teenage girls and the law. Crime, Media, Culture, 8, 57-73. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1741659011429868
Karaian, L. (2013). Policing "Sexting": Responsibilization, respectability and sexual subjectivity in child protection / crime prevention responses to teenagers' digital sexual expression. Theoretical criminology, online first. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1362480613504331
Katzman, D. K. (2010). Sexting: Keeping teens safe and responsible in a technologically savvy world. Paediatrics and Child Health 15, 41-45. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1473225411420533
Kendall, N. (2013). The Sex Education Debates. Chicago: Universiy of Chicago Press.
Kitt, K. E. (2012). Hot Sex Text Tips. Lil Black Dress Press.
Knowledge Networks (2009). The Associated Press-MTV Poll Digital Abuse Survey. Retrieved from: http://surveys.ap.org/data%5CKnowledgeNetworks%5CAP_Digital_Abuse_Topline_092209.pdf
Korenis, P., & Billick, S. (2013). Forensic implications: Adolescent sexting and cyberbullying. Psychiatric Quaterly, online first. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11126-013-9277-z
Kotz, P. (2009). Hope Witsell, 13, commits suicide due to bullying over popless photo she sexted. Retrieved from: http://www.truecrimereport.com/2009/12/hope_witsell_13_commits_suicid.php
Klettke, B., Hallford, D., & Mellor, D. (2014). Sexting prevalence and correlates: A systematic literature review. Clinical Psychology Review, 34, 44-53. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cpr.2013.10.007
Kreager, D., & Staff, J. (2009). The sexual double standard and adolescent peer acceptance. Social Psychology Quarterly 72, 143-164. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/019027250907200205
Lee, M., Crofts, T., Salter, M., Milivojevic, S., & McGovern, A. (2013). "Let's get sexting": Risk, power, sex and criminalisation in the moral domain. International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy, 2(1), 35-49. http://dx.doi.org/10.5204/ijcjsd.v2i1.89
Lerum, K., & Dworkin, S. (2009). "Bad girls rule": An interdisciplinary feminist commentary on the report of the APA Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls. Journal of Sex Research, 46: 250-263. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00224490903079542
Levine, D. (2013). Sexting: A terrifying health risk… or the new normal for young adults? Journal of Adolescent Health, 52, 257-258. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2013.01.003
Lim, S. S. (2013). On mobile communication and youth "deviance" – Beyond moral, media and mobile panics. Mobile Media & Communication, 1, 96-101. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/2050157912459503
Livingstone, S. (2008). Taking risky opportunites in youthful content creation: teenagers' use of social networking sites for intimacy, privacy and self-expression. New Media & Society, 10, 393-411. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1461444808089415
Livingstone, S., Haddon, L., Görzig, A., & Ólafsson, K. (2011). Risks and safety on the internet: The perspective of European children: full findings and policy implications from the EU Kids Online survey of 9-16 year olds and their parents in 25 countries. EU Kids Online, Deliverable D4. EU Kids Online Network, London, UK. Retrieved from: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/33731/1/Risks%20and%20safety%20on%20the%20internet%28lsero%29.pdf
Lumby, C., & Funnell, N. (2012). "Between heat and light: The opportunity in moral panics". Crime, Media, Culture, 7, 277-291. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1741659011417606
Maurović, I., & Knežević, M. (2012). Fizički izgied i internalizirani i eksternalizirani problemi u ponašanju adolescentic. / Physical appearance and internalized and externalized problems in the behavior of adolescents. Socijalna Psihijatrija, 40, 127-134.
McArdle, P. (2013). Review of clinical handbook of adolescent addiction. Addiction, 108, 2031-2022.
Mitchell, K., Finkelhor, D., Jones, L., & Wolak, J. (2012). Prevalence and characteristics of youth sexting: A national study. Pediatrics, 129, 13-20. http://dx.doi.org/10.1542/peds.2011-1730
O'Hanlon, C. (without year). Sexting etiquette: What's cool and what's not. Retrieved from: http://www.29secrets.com/relationships/sexting-etiquette-whats-cool-and-whats-not
O'Keeffe, G., Clarke-Pearson, K., & Council on Communications and Media (2011). The impact of social media on children, adolescents, and families. Pediatrics, 127, 800-804. http://dx.doi.org/10.1542/peds.2011-0054
Oravec, L. A. (2012). The ethics of sexting: Isses involving consent and the production of intimate content. In D. Heider & A. Massanari (Eds.), Digital Ethics: Research and Practice (pp. 129-145). New York: Lang.
Ostrager, B. (2010). SMS. OMG! LOL! TTYL: Translating the law to accomodate today's teens and the evolution from texting to sexting. Family Court Review, 48, 712-726. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1744-1617.2010.01345.x
Parker, T., Blackburn, K., Perry, M., & Hawks, J. (2013). Sexting as an intervention: Relationship satisfaction and motivation considerations. American Journal of Family Therapy, 41, 1-12. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01926187.2011.635134
Pascoe, C. J. (2011). Resource and risk: Youth sexuality and new media use. Sexuality Research & Social Policy, 8, 5-17. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s13178-011-0042-5
Peskin, M., Markhan, C., Addy, R., Shegog, R., Thiel, M., & Tortolero, S. (2013). Prevalence and patterns of sexting among ethnic minority urban high school students. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 16, 454-459. http://dx.doi.org/10.1089/cyber.2012.0452
Peterson, Z. (2009). What is sexual empowerment? A multi-dimensional and process-oriented approach to adolescent girls' sexual empowerment. Sex Roles, 62, 307-313. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11199-009-9725-2
PewResearchCenter (2009). Teens and Sexting. How and why minors are sending sexually suggestive nude or nearly nude images via text messaging. Washington, DC: Retrieved from: pewinternte.org. http://pewresearch.org/pubs/1440/teens-sexting-text-messages.
Ravenscraft, E. (2013). How to practice safe sexting, without resorting to digital abstinence. Lifehacker, 7 November 2013. Retrieved from: http://lifehacker.com/how-to-practice-safe-sexting-without-resorting-to-digi-698798261
Rice, E., Rhoades, H., Winetrobe, H., Sanchez, M., Montoya, J., Plant, A., & Kordic, T. (2012). Sexually explicit cell phone messaging associated with sexual risk among adolescents. Pediatrics, 130, 667-673. http://dx.doi.org/10.1542/peds.2012-0021
Ringrose, J., Harvey, L., Gill, R., & Livingstone, S. (2013). Teen girls, sexual double standards and "sexting". Gendered value in digital exchange. Feminist Theory, 14, 305-323. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1464700113499853
Sadhu, J. (2012). Sexting: The impact of a cultural phenomenon on psychiatric practice. Academic Psychiatry, 36, 76-81. http://dx.doi.org/10.1176/appi.ap.10100146
Salter, M., Crofts, T., & Lee, M. (2013). Beyond criminalisation and responsibilisation: Sexting, gender and young people. Current Issues in Criminal Justice, 24(3), 301-316.
Simpson, B. (2013). Challenging childhood, challenging children: Children's rights and sexting. Sexualities, 16, 690-709. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1363460713487467
Srinivas, A., White, M., & Omar, H. (2011). Teens texting and consequences: A brief review. International Journal of Child and Adolescent Health, 4, 327-331.
Stone, N. (2011). The "Sexting" quagmire: Criminal justice responces to adolescents' electronic transmission of indecent images in the UK and the USA. Youth Justice, 11, 266-281. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1473225411420533
Strassberg, D., McKinnon, R., Sustaíta, M., & Rullo, J. (2013). Sexting by high school students: An exploratory and descriptive study. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 42, 15-21. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10508-012-9969-8
The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy and Cosmogirl.com (2009) Sex and Tech. Results from a survey of teens and young adults. Retrieved from: http://www.thenationalcampaign.org/sextech/PDF/SexTech_Summary.pdf
Vanwesenbeeck, I. (2009). The risks and rights of sexualization: An appreciative commentary on Lerum and Dworkin's "Bad girls rule". Journal of Sex Research, 46 , 268-270. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00224490903082694
Walker, S., Sanci, L., & Temple-Smith, M. (2013). Sexting: Young women's and men's views on its nature and origins. Journal of Adolescent Health, 52, 697-701. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2013.01.026
Weiss, R., & Samenow, C. P. (2010). Smart phones, social networking, sexting and problematic sexual behaviors – A call for research. Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity, 17, 241-246. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10720162.2010.532079
Weisskirch, R. S., & Delevi, R. (2011). "Sexting" and adult romantic attachment. Computers in Human Behavior, 27, 1697-1701. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2011.02.008
Wiederhold, B. (2011). Should adult sexting be considered for the DSM? Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 14, 481. http://dx.doi.org/10.1089/cyber.2011.1522
Wolak, J., Finkelhor, D., & Mitchell, K. (2012). How often are teens arrested for sexting? Data from a national sample of police cases. Pediatrics, 129, 4-12. http://dx.doi.org/10.1542/peds.2011-2242
Wysocki, D. K., & Childers, C. D. (2011). "Let my fingers do the talking": Sexting and infidelity in Cyberspace. Sexuality & Culture, 15, 217-239. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s12119-011-9091-4
Crossref Cited-by (87)
1. A qualitative meta-synthesis of young peoples' experiences of ‘sexting’
Yvonne Wilkinson, Clare Whitfield, Sue Hannigan, Parveen Azam Ali, Mark Hayter
British Journal of School Nursing vol: 11, issue: 4, first page: 183, year: 2016
2. Sexting als Risiko?
Arne Dekker, Thula Koops
Bundesgesundheitsblatt - Gesundheitsforschung - Gesundheitsschutz vol: 60, issue: 9, first page: 1034, year: 2017
3. Handbuch Soziale Praktiken und Digitale Alltagswelten
ISBN 978-3-658-08460-8 Chapter 40-1, first page: 1, year: 2016
4. Meanings of Bodily and Sexual Expression in Youth Sexting Culture: Young Women’s Negotiation of Gendered Risks and Harms
Sex Roles vol: 80, issue: 9-10, first page: 586, year: 2019
5. Sexting: Prevalence, Predictors, and Associated Sexual Risk Behaviors among Postsecondary School Young People in Ibadan, Nigeria
Oluwatoyin Olatunde, Folusho Balogun
Frontiers in Public Health vol: 5, year: 2017
6. Adolescents and self-taken sexual images: A review of the literature
Karen Cooper, Ethel Quayle, Linda Jonsson, Carl Göran Svedin
Computers in Human Behavior vol: 55, first page: 706, year: 2016
7. Abuse through sexual image sharing in schools: Response and responsibility
Gender and Education first page: 1, year: 2018
8. Online sexual abuse of adolescents by a perpetrator met online: a cross-sectional study
Linda S. Jonsson, Cecilia Fredlund, Gisela Priebe, Marie Wadsby, Carl Göran Svedin
Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health vol: 13, issue: 1, year: 2019
9. Teen sexting: Prevalence, characteristics and legal treatment
International Journal of Law, Crime and Justice vol: 49, first page: 10, year: 2017
10. Handbuch Online-Kommunikation
ISBN 978-3-658-18017-1 Chapter 8-1, first page: 1, year: 2018
11. Reporting on young people, sexuality, and social media: a discourse theoretical analysis
Burcu Korkmazer, Sander De Ridder, Sofie Van Bauwel
Journal of Youth Studies vol: 23, issue: 3, first page: 323, year: 2020
12. It’s “vile” but is it violence? A case study analysis of news media representations of non-consensual sexual image-sharing
Feminist Media Studies first page: 1, year: 2020
13. Online, Offline, and Over the Line: Coercive Sexting Among Adolescent Dating Partners
Poco D. Kernsmith, Bryan G. Victor, Joanne P. Smith-Darden
Youth & Society vol: 50, issue: 7, first page: 891, year: 2018
14. Correlates and outcomes associated with sexting among justice involved youth: The role of developmental adversity, emotional disinhibitions, relationship context, and dating violence
Jamie Yoder, Jesse Hansen, Madison Precht
Children and Youth Services Review vol: 94, first page: 493, year: 2018
15. How public health nurses’ deal with sexting among young people: a qualitative inquiry using the critical incident technique
Maria Clark, Alison Lewis, Sally Bradshaw, Caroline Bradbury-Jones
BMC Public Health vol: 18, issue: 1, year: 2018
16. ‘Confident’ and ‘hot’ or ‘desperate’ and ‘cowardly’? Meanings of young men’s sexting practices in youth sexting culture
Journal of Youth Studies first page: 1, year: 2019
17. The Role of Sexual Images in Online and Offline Sexual Behaviour With Minors
Ethel Quayle, Emily Newman
Current Psychiatry Reports vol: 17, issue: 6, year: 2015
18. Onset Trajectories of Sexting and Other Sexual Behaviors Across High School: A Longitudinal Growth Mixture Modeling Approach
Davia B. Steinberg, Valerie A. Simon, Bryan G. Victor, Poco D. Kernsmith, Joanne P. Smith-Darden
Archives of Sexual Behavior vol: 48, issue: 8, first page: 2321, year: 2019
19. Sexting, Online Sexual Victimization, and Psychopathology Correlates by Sex: Depression, Anxiety, and Global Psychopathology
Aina M. Gassó, Katrin Mueller-Johnson, Irene Montiel
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health vol: 17, issue: 3, first page: 1018, year: 2020
20. Demystifying sexting: Adolescent sexting and its associations with parenting styles and sense of parental social control in Israel
Michal Dolev-Cohen, Tsameret Ricon
Cyberpsychology: Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace vol: 14, issue: 1, year: 2020
21. Sending Nudes: Sex, Self-Rated Mate Value, and Trait Machiavellianism Predict Sending Unsolicited Explicit Images
Evita March, Danielle L. Wagstaff
Frontiers in Psychology vol: 8, year: 2017
22. Images across Europe: The sending and receiving of sexual images and associations with interpersonal violence in young people's relationships
Marsha Wood, Christine Barter, Nicky Stanley, Nadia Aghtaie, Cath Larkins
Children and Youth Services Review vol: 59, first page: 149, year: 2015
23. Sexting: adolescents’ perceptions of the applications used for, motives for, and consequences of sexting
Joris Van Ouytsel, Ellen Van Gool, Michel Walrave, Koen Ponnet, Emilie Peeters
Journal of Youth Studies first page: 1, year: 2016
24. Sexting Among Adolescents: The Emotional Impact and Influence of the Need for Popularity
Rosario Del Rey, Mónica Ojeda, José A. Casas, Joaquín A. Mora-Merchán, Paz Elipe
Frontiers in Psychology vol: 10, year: 2019
25. Association of Sexting With Sexual Behaviors and Mental Health Among Adolescents
Camille Mori, Jeff R. Temple, Dillon Browne, Sheri Madigan
JAMA Pediatrics vol: 173, issue: 8, first page: 770, year: 2019
26. The associations between sex drive, sexual self-concept, sexual orientation, and exposure to online victimization in Italian adolescents: Investigating the mediating role of verbal and visual sexting behaviors
D. Marengo, M. Settanni, C. Longobardi
Children and Youth Services Review vol: 102, first page: 18, year: 2019
27. Are Online Sexual Activities and Sexting Good for Adults’ Sexual Well-Being? Results From a National Online Survey
Nicola Döring, M. Rohangis Mohseni
International Journal of Sexual Health vol: 30, issue: 3, first page: 250, year: 2018
28. Vulnerable Young People and Their Experience of Online Risks
Aiman El Asam, Adrienne Katz
Human–Computer Interaction vol: 33, issue: 4, first page: 281, year: 2018
29. Unpacking “Sexting”: A Systematic Review of Nonconsensual Sexting in Legal, Educational, and Psychological Literatures
Michelle A. Krieger
Trauma, Violence, & Abuse vol: 18, issue: 5, first page: 593, year: 2017
30. Handbuch Online-Kommunikation
ISBN 978-3-658-18016-4 Chapter 8, first page: 167, year: 2019
31. The Nature and Extent of Sexting Among a National Sample of Middle and High School Students in the U.S.
Justin W. Patchin, Sameer Hinduja
Archives of Sexual Behavior vol: 48, issue: 8, first page: 2333, year: 2019
32. Predicting the Willingness to Engage in Non-Consensual Forwarding of Sexts: The Role of Pornography and Instrumental Notions of Sex
Johanna M. F. van Oosten, Laura Vandenbosch
Archives of Sexual Behavior year: 2020
33. Psychological Correlates of Teen Sexting in three Countries – Direct and Indirect Associations between Self-control, Self-esteem, and Sexting
Sebastian Wachs, Michelle F. Wright, Karsten D. Wolf
International Journal of Developmental Science vol: 11, issue: 3-4, first page: 109, year: 2017
34. Visual gossiping: non-consensual ‘nude’ sharing among young people in Denmark
Katrine Bindesbøl Holm Johansen, Bodil Maria Pedersen, Tine Tjørnhøj-Thomsen
Culture, Health & Sexuality vol: 21, issue: 9, first page: 1029, year: 2019
35. Critical Issues Impacting Science, Technology, Society (STS), and Our Future
Samuel E. Ehrenreich, Diana J. Meter, Marion K. Underwood
ISBN 9781522579502 chapter 6, first page: 124, year: 2019
Michel Walrave, Joris Van Ouytsel, Koen Ponnet, Jeff R. Temple
ISBN 978-3-319-71882-8 Chapter 1, first page: 1, year: 2018
37. Sexting Among Married Couples: Who Is Doing It, and Are They More Satisfied?
Brandon T. McDaniel, Michelle Drouin
Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking vol: 18, issue: 11, first page: 628, year: 2015
38. Adolescent Sexting: The Roles of Self-Objectification and Internalization of Media Ideals
Ashton Gerding Speno, Jennifer Stevens Aubrey
Psychology of Women Quarterly vol: 43, issue: 1, first page: 88, year: 2019
39. A ‘Control Model’ of Social Media Engagement in Adolescence: A Grounded Theory Analysis
Throuvala, Griffiths, Rennoldson, Kuss
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health vol: 16, issue: 23, first page: 4696, year: 2019
40. Sexting, Web-Based Risks, and Safety in Two Representative National Samples of Young Australians: Prevalence, Perspectives, and Predictors
Alyssa C Milton, Benjamin A Gill, Tracey A Davenport, Mitchell Dowling, Jane M Burns, Ian B Hickie
JMIR Mental Health vol: 6, issue: 6, first page: e13338, year: 2019
41. Encyclopedia of Mobile Phone Behavior
Lara Karaian, Andrew Tompkins
ISBN 9781466682405 chapter 118, first page: 1500, year: 2015
42. Management of non-consensually shared youth-produced sexual images: A Delphi study with adolescents as experts
Ethel Quayle, Laura Cariola
Child Abuse & Neglect vol: 95, first page: 104064, year: 2019
43. A Rights-Based Approach to Youth Sexting: Challenging Risk, Shame, and the Denial of Rights to Bodily and Sexual Expression Within Youth Digital Sexual Culture
International Journal of Bullying Prevention vol: 1, issue: 4, first page: 298, year: 2019
44. Gender, Pressure, Coercion and Pleasure: Untangling Motivations for Sexting Between Young People
Murray Lee, Thomas Crofts
British Journal of Criminology vol: 55, issue: 3, first page: 454, year: 2015
45. Insecure attachments: Attachment, emotional regulation, sexting and condomless sex among women in relationships
Leora Trub, Tyrel J. Starks
Computers in Human Behavior vol: 71, first page: 140, year: 2017
46. Handbuch Soziale Praktiken und Digitale Alltagswelten
ISBN 978-3-658-08357-1 Chapter 40, first page: 301, year: 2020
47. Individual differences and developmental trends in sexting motivations
Dora Bianchi, Mara Morelli, Roberto Baiocco, Antonio Chirumbolo
Current Psychology year: 2019
48. Family functioning patterns predict teenage girls’ sexting
Dora Bianchi, Mara Morelli, Roberto Baiocco, Elena Cattelino, Fiorenzo Laghi, Antonio Chirumbolo
International Journal of Behavioral Development vol: 43, issue: 6, first page: 507, year: 2019
49. Cyberpsychology as Everyday Digital Experience across the Lifespan
Dave Harley, Julie Morgan, Hannah Frith
ISBN 978-1-137-59200-2 Chapter 5, first page: 105, year: 2018
50. Teens and 'Sexting' in New Zealand: Prevalence and Attitudes
Edgar Pacheco, Neil Melhuish
SSRN Electronic Journal year: 2017
51. “Sex Pics?”: Longitudinal Predictors of Sexting Among Adolescents
Manuel Gámez-Guadix, Patricia de Santisteban
Journal of Adolescent Health vol: 63, issue: 5, first page: 608, year: 2018
52. The Role of Child Sexual Abuse Images in Coercive and Non-Coercive Relationships with Adolescents: A Thematic Review of the Literature
Ethel Quayle, Karen Cooper
Child & Youth Services vol: 36, issue: 4, first page: 312, year: 2015
53. A Prospective Study of High-School Adolescent Sexting Behavior and Psychological Distress
Arta Dodaj, Kristina Sesar, Slavica Jerinić
The Journal of Psychology vol: 154, issue: 2, first page: 111, year: 2020
54. Feind oder Freund in meiner Hosentasche? – Zur Rolle von Individuum, Peergroup und Eltern für die (dys)funktionale Handynutzung
Karin Knop, Dorothée Hefner
Praxis der Kinderpsychologie und Kinderpsychiatrie vol: 67, issue: 2, first page: 204, year: 2018
55. Offline and Online Sexual Risk Behavior among Youth in the Netherlands: Findings from “Sex under the Age of 25”
Hanneke De Graaf, Mirthe Verbeek, Marieke Van den Borne, Suzanne Meijer
Frontiers in Public Health vol: 6, year: 2018
56. I’ll Show You Mine so You’ll Show Me Yours: Motivations and Personality Variables in Photographic Exhibitionism
Flora Oswald, Alex Lopes, Kaylee Skoda, Cassandra L. Hesse, Cory L. Pedersen
The Journal of Sex Research first page: 1, year: 2019
57. Adolescent Profiles According to Their Beliefs and Affinity to Sexting. A Cluster Study
Encarnación Soriano-Ayala, Verónica C. Cala, Rachida Dalouh
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health vol: 17, issue: 3, first page: 1087, year: 2020
58. Longitudinal relationships between sexting and involvement in both bullying and cyberbullying
Mónica Ojeda, Rosario Del Rey, Simon C. Hunter
Journal of Adolescence vol: 77, first page: 81, year: 2019
59. It is Time to Teach Safe Sexting
Justin W. Patchin, Sameer Hinduja
Journal of Adolescent Health vol: 66, issue: 2, first page: 140, year: 2020
60. A Prototype Willingness Approach to the Relation Between Geo-social Dating Apps and Willingness to Sext with Dating App Matches
Lara Schreurs, Sindy R. Sumter, Laura Vandenbosch
Archives of Sexual Behavior year: 2020
61. The Palgrave Handbook of Sexuality Education
Kath Albury, Amy Adele Hasinoff, Theresa Senft
ISBN 978-1-137-40033-8 Chapter 26, first page: 527, year: 2017
62. The International Encyclopedia of Media Literacy
Joris Ouytsel, Michel Walrave, Koen Ponnet, Jeff R. Temple
ISBN 9781118978238 first page: 1, year: 2018
63. The Prevalence of Sexting Behaviors Among Emerging Adults: A Meta-Analysis
Camille Mori, Jessica E. Cooke, Jeff R. Temple, Anh Ly, Yu Lu, Nina Anderson, Christina Rash, Sheri Madigan
Archives of Sexual Behavior year: 2020
64. Jahrbuch Medienpädagogik 12
Sebastian Wachs, Karsten D. Wolf
ISBN 978-3-658-09809-4 Chapter 5, first page: 71, year: 2015
65. Sexting Prevalence and Socio-Demographic Correlates in Spanish Secondary School Students
Cristian Molla-Esparza, Emelina López-González, Josep-María Losilla
Sexuality Research and Social Policy year: 2020
66. Sexting and risky sexual behaviours among undergraduate students in Botswana: An exploratory study
Obakeng L. Makgale, Ilse Elisabeth Plattner
Cyberpsychology: Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace vol: 11, issue: 2, year: 2017
67. Sexting as sexual stigma: The paradox of sexual self-representation in digital youth cultures
Sander De Ridder
European Journal of Cultural Studies vol: 22, issue: 5-6, first page: 563, year: 2019
68. Prevalence and profile of sexting among adolescents in Ecuador
Paula Yépez-Tito, Marta Ferragut, María J. Blanca
Journal of Youth Studies vol: 22, issue: 4, first page: 505, year: 2019
69. (Don’t) Look at Me! How the Assumed Consensual or Non-Consensual Distribution Affects Perception and Evaluation of Sexting Images
Arne Dekker, Frederike Wenzlaff, Anne Daubmann, Hans O. Pinnschmidt, Peer Briken
Journal of Clinical Medicine vol: 8, issue: 5, first page: 706, year: 2019
70. Assessing the Links of Sexting, Cybervictimization, Depression, and Suicidal Ideation Among University Students
José Luis Jasso Medrano, Fuensanta Lopez Rosales, Manuel Gámez-Guadix
Archives of Suicide Research vol: 22, issue: 1, first page: 153, year: 2018
71. Sexting among high school students in a metropolis in Ghana: an exploratory and descriptive study
F. Baiden, J. Amankwah, A. Owusu
Journal of Children and Media first page: 1, year: 2020
Kathleen Van Royen, Karolien Poels, Heidi Vandebosch, Michel Walrave
ISBN 978-3-319-71882-8 Chapter 6, first page: 81, year: 2018
73. Sexting: A new, digital vehicle for intimate partner aggression?
Michelle Drouin, Jody Ross, Elizabeth Tobin
Computers in Human Behavior vol: 50, first page: 197, year: 2015
74. Soziale Onlinenetzwerke in der Psychotherapie mit Jugendlichen
Psychotherapeut vol: 60, issue: 2, first page: 151, year: 2015
75. “When It Deviates It Becomes Harassment, Doesn’t It?” A Qualitative Study on the Definition of Sexting According to Adolescents and Young Adults, Parents, and Teachers
Yara Barrense-Dias, Joan-Carles Surís, Christina Akre
Archives of Sexual Behavior vol: 48, issue: 8, first page: 2357, year: 2019
76. Sext education: pedagogies of sex, gender and shame in the schoolyards ofTaggedandExposed
Amy Shields Dobson, Jessica Ringrose
Sex Education vol: 16, issue: 1, first page: 8, year: 2016
77. Longitudinal and reciprocal relationships between sexting, online sexual solicitations, and cyberbullying among minors
Manuel Gámez-Guadix, Estibaliz Mateos-Pérez
Computers in Human Behavior vol: 94, first page: 70, year: 2019
78. A systematic review of the current knowledge regarding revenge pornography and non-consensual sharing of sexually explicit media
Kate Walker, Emma Sleath
Aggression and Violent Behavior vol: 36, first page: 9, year: 2017
79. Construction and Validation of the Intimate Images Diffusion Scale Among Adolescents
María Penado, María Luisa Rodicio-García, María Marcos Cuesta, Tania Corrás
Frontiers in Psychology vol: 10, year: 2019
80. Sex(t) Talk: A Qualitative Analysis of Young Adults’ Negotiations of the Pleasures and Perils of Sexting
Sexuality & Culture vol: 19, issue: 4, first page: 835, year: 2015
81. Technology-mediated sexual interaction and relationships: a systematic review of the literature
Erin Leigh Courtice, Krystelle Shaughnessy
Sexual and Relationship Therapy vol: 32, issue: 3-4, first page: 269, year: 2017
82. Does body dissatisfaction influence sexting behaviors in daily life?
Dominika Howard, Bianca Klettke, Mathew Ling, Isabel Krug, Matthew Fuller-Tyszkiewicz
Computers in Human Behavior vol: 101, first page: 320, year: 2019
83. Whether or not to engage in sexting: Explaining adolescent sexting behaviour by applying the prototype willingness model
Michel Walrave, Koen Ponnet, Joris Van Ouytsel, Ellen Van Gool, Wannes Heirman, Anouk Verbeek
Telematics and Informatics vol: 32, issue: 4, first page: 796, year: 2015
84. Opinions of Adolescents on Prevention Related to Sexting: a Q-Methodology Study
Yara Barrense-Dias, Christina Akre, Joan-Carles Suris, André Berchtold
Sexuality Research and Social Policy year: 2020
85. “I keep hearing reports on the news that it's a real problem at the moment”: Public health nurses’ understandings of sexting practices among young people
Caroline Bradbury‐Jones, Sally Bradshaw, Maria Clark, Alison Lewis
Health & Social Care in the Community vol: 27, issue: 4, first page: 1063, year: 2019
86. Research on Sexting and Emotion Regulation Difficulties: A review and Commentary
Arta Dodaj, Kristina Sesar
International Journal of Developmental Science first page: 1, year: 2019
87. Children in Identified Sexual Images - Who Are they? Self- and Non-Self-Taken Images in the International Child Sexual Exploitation Image Database 2006-2015
Ethel Quayle, Linda S. Jonsson, Karen Cooper, James Traynor, Carl Göran Svedin
Child Abuse Review vol: 27, issue: 3, first page: 223, year: 2018