Hey, guys! It’s Caroline, and as promised, my last post is on sexting. I deliberately saved sexting for last because I didn’t want my classmates and professor to make premature judgments about me for writing a blog post about sexting. In this post, I will cover the pros and cons of sexting, as well as how you can sext safely. I am happy to have finally written about it, and I hope you enjoy it as well!
Sexting is a controversial topic that is often not talked about among friends and colleagues (classmates and professors as well). It is an act that is often viewed as shameful. However, sexting is far more common than one may think. One study of 870 people ages 18-82 found that 88% of the respondents had sent or received a sext. Also, 82% said they had sent or received a sext in the last year.
So, what exactly is sexting? People often define it differently. It is most commonly defined as the exchange of sexually explicit images or texts through a form of electronic exchange. Many people just think of sexting as sending sexually explicit images, but it also includes sexually explicit messages. The texts that involve “Here is what I want to do to you… ;)” would be considered a sext. Think of it as modern day “phone sex.” Instead of talking on the phone, it is done through texting.
Four out of five of your classmates have received a sext! A study published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking found that 80% of undergraduates had received a sext, while 67% said they had sent a sext. On top of that, 46% of undergraduates had received a sexually suggestive image, and 64% had sent one.
Why are so many people sexting? Researchers in the previously mentioned study believe it has a lot to do with expectations, similar to how people are willing to engage in risky behaviors such as binge drinking or gambling because they think it will be fun. On the positive side, people reported that sending a sext made them feel sexy and exciting. People reported that receiving a sext made them feel admired and attractive. These positive feelings lower our inhibition and make us more willing to sext. Who doesn’t want to feel sexy and admired?
There are other theories about why people sext. A New York Times article discusses an online study conducted by psychologists where respondents were asked to report their sexting behavior as well as answer questions that measured how dominant, assertive, and in power the person strived to be. In people under the age of 27, power scores were not correlated with sexting behavior. In other words, the amount of sexting that someone did wasn’t related to how much they wanted to be in power. However, in adults over the age of 27, power and dominance was a factor in sexting. Adults who sexted may have been trying to be sexually dominant and assert their power.
As with just about everything, sexting has its pros and cons.
Psychology researchers at Drexel University conducted a study looking for potential benefits of sexting in relationships. They found that in casual relationships, sexting is linked to higher relationship satisfaction. In couples that were in long-term, committed relationships, sexting was only beneficial if it was desired by both the sender and receiver of the sext. When sexting occurred, but was unwanted, couples were more likely to have lower relationship satisfaction. Also, if you send a sext without consent, there may be legal ramifications, such as being charged with sexual harassment.
So, if you want to spice up your relationship by sending a sexy picture of yourself to your girlfriend on Snapchat, or you want to let her know what you can’t wait to do to her later, make sure she’s actually into that. If she is, it may benefit your relationship!
Although there may be benefits to sexting, you have to take into account the potential risks. Bianca Klette, co-author of a review of sexting studies that was published in Clinical Psychology Review, points out that although you trust your boyfriend now, he may choose to spread those images and texts after a breakup to seek revenge. There are “revenge porn” websites solely dedicated to posting nude photos of an ex-partner for revenge. A survey revealed that 10 percent of ex-partners have threatened to post nude photos online for revenge, and 60 percent followed through with those threats.
Even if someone isn’t seeking revenge, sometimes people choose to forward or show their friends sexts they receive just for fun. A study done by the University of Rhode Island found that 17% of people who receive a sext forward it to at least one other person. Could the person you choose to sext be one of the people that forwards a sext to his or her friends?
The National Center for Psychological Trauma in the Netherlands has seen an increase in the need for mental health treatment for people who have been blackmailed with nude photos. Most of the victims are between the ages of 14 and 17. They frequently end up needing cognitive behavioral therapy to treat their symptoms relating to post-traumatic stress disorder. From what the center has seen, most of the time it is teenage girls getting blackmailed by their ex-boyfriends. Sometimes boys who are gay, but aren’t openly gay, end up getting blackmailed as well.
One study found that teenage depression and sexting are linked. The study was based on a survey of more than 23,000 high school students and it revealed that 13 percent of high school students who sexted also reported a suicide attempt in the past year, compared to only three percent of students who had not sexted. However, it is unclear whether sexting causes depression, or if depressed individuals are more likely to sext.
Celebrity sexting scandals gone public have become so common that nobody is even surprised by them anymore. Tiger Woods, Vanessa Hudgens, Miley Cyrus, Kanye West, and Pete Wentz are celebrities that have been caught in scandals, just to name a few. If it can happen to them, it can also happen to you. Fortunately for you, it probably wouldn’t be as public as a full-blown sexting scandal.
You may be thinking to yourself, “So, if there are these supposed benefits to sexting, but also a bunch of risks, can I still sext safely?” The Washington Post posted an article titled “A guide to safe sexting: How to send nude photos without ruining your life, career, and reputation.” One of the easiest things you can do is NEVER INCLUDE YOUR FACE IN THE PHOTO. Sure, the guy you just sent that photo may question if it’s really you in the photo, but you don’t have to prove anything to him. If you’re sending photos to someone who you have already been nude in front of in person, that won’t be a problem. He should just be delighted he has a nude photo of you, even if your face isn’t shown.
If you want to be really careful, the article describes ways to make sure the photo you send has no ties to your phone or computer.
If you currently sext, make sure you do it with the possible consequences in mind, and do what you can to minimize your risk of being exposed, blackmailed, or humiliated in the future. If you are thinking about adding sexting to your current relationship to mix things up, make sure your partner is interested in sexting as well.
I hope my blog posts informed you about Tinder, why you should delete an ex on Facebook, Facebook affairs, and sexting! Now go forth and swipe right.