Even though researchers and commentators have debated whether sexting undermines relationships or leads to high-risk sexual behavior, new research published in the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication suggests sexting may not significantly impact sexual behavior at all. Sexting refers to the sending of sexually explicit content via text message. The study analyzed 15 previous studies on the topic and found little cause for concern.
However, the study suggests more research is needed to assess the role of sexting in specific sexual behaviors. Current research does not use a consistent definition of sexting. This points to significant holes in the literature.
Does Sexting Affect Relationships?
The study was an analysis of previous research on sexting and relationships. Researchers began with 234 articles analyzing sexting, but they removed studies that did not examine how sexting changes behavior or studies that did not provide clear quantitative data on sexting and behavior. This resulted in 15 studies that explored the link between sexting and unprotected sex, sexual activity, or number of sexual partners.
The study’s authors say their research suggests concerns about sexting are unfounded. They also urge more research, clearer definitions, and better research methodologies to evaluate the effects of sexting.
Other Sexting Research
A 2015 survey found more than 8 in 10 surveyed adults had sexted during the previous year. Seventy-five percent did so in the context of a committed relationship, and 43% sexted in casual relationships.
That study also found sexting might improve relationship satisfaction. In romantic relationships, men and women who sexted reported higher levels of sexual satisfaction. In “very committed” relationships, however, they did not report higher sexual satisfaction associated with sexting. Single people also did not report greater sexual satisfaction associated with sexting.
- Field of ‘sexting’ research finds little to worry about. (2017, May 22). Retrieved from https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-05/ncsu-fo052217.php
- How common is sexting? (2015, August 8). Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2015/08/common-sexting.aspx
- Kosenko, K., Luurs, G., & Binder, A. R. (2017). Sexting and sexual behavior, 2011-2015: A critical review and meta-analysis of a growing literature. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication. doi:10.1111/jcc4.12187
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