Sexting Is The Norm With Many Young Adults
July 28, 2012

Sexting Among Young Adults Has Become More Common

Michael Harper for — Your Universe Online

It´s just as modern poet Bob Dylan sings, “The times, they are a´changing,” and part of this change is the way young people communicate with one another. Gone are the days of young people meeting one another at the local hangout and asking for one another´s phone number, only to wait anxiously for a period of 1 to 3 days before making the first call.

If a University of Michigan study has it right, the ever-increasing connectedness of our world doesn´t only allow news to travel more quickly, it also makes young people – already prone to making fast moves – progress in their relationships just as quickly.

Researchers at the University of Michigan studied the sexting behavior of 3,447 men and women between the ages of 18 and 24 and discovered that, while the public perception of sexting may be less than favorable, this sexual act is quite common.

“Sexting,” or sending sexually explicit text messages, isn´t associated with the same kinds of health risks or psychological problems as other, more “traditional” sexual behaviors.

The trouble with the public´s perception of sexting, suggests the study, is that most stories are about teens and pre-teens.

"For younger age groups, legality is an issue," said the studies first author Debbie Gordon-Messer, according to a press release on the university website. "They are also in a very different place in their sexual development."

Whereas other studies have concentrated on the “who” of sexting, Dr. Jose Bauermeister, assistant professor at the University of Michigan Public Health and co-author of this new research, says this is the first study to focus on how this sexting affects the health of those behind the thumbs.

Of the 3,447 young people surveyed for this study, more than half of them said they had engaged in sexting before. In addition most of those who said they were recipients also sent sexts of their own, leading the researchers to believe that the act of sexting is reciprocal and likely occurs between romantic partners.

"Our results also suggest that sexting is most often a reciprocal behavior," the study said. "Among those participants who had ever sent or received a sext, 66 percent reported both sending and receiving sexts. Given findings that most young men and women report sharing sexts within a dating relationship, it is likely that our findings reflect sexting between romantic partners."

According to their research, sexting doesn´t always indicate risky behavior elsewhere. Those who said they had sent or received sexts did not report riskier sexual behavior than those who preferred to have sex in more “traditional” ways. When asked, those who said they had engaged in sexting did not say they had engaged in unprotected sex more frequently than those who did not admit to sexting.

This study serves to identify how modern technology impacts our health, says Dr. Bauermeister. "We have to keep paying attention to how technology influences our lives, including our sexuality and our sexual behavior," he said.

The paper, entitled “Sexting Among Young Adults” will appear in an upcoming edition of the Journal Adolescent Health.