Sexting: How Private Is It?

Smartphones make many things much easier than they were in previous generations. Need directions? Printed maps can gather dust and you can skip asking the gas station attendant, because MapQuest and GoogleMaps have you covered. Stumbling around in the dark? You can forget the MacGyver routine of carrying around a flashlight all the time, thanks to your phone’s built-in light app. Want to have a spicy exchange with your latest fling? Titillation is only a few keystrokes and a text message away. The ease of this last aspect has generated plenty of controversies, from revenge porn to political scandals, which might make you wonder — how private are most sexts, in the end? Indiana University recently investigated the sexting phenomenon and discovered that many people do in fact share their sexts with other friends.

Researchers surveyed 5805 adults (2830 women; 2975 men), ages 21 to 75+, about their sexting habits. (We’re heartened that there are people 75+ sending sexts. You’re as young as you feel, indeed!) They found that 21% of participants admitted to sending sexts, while another 28% said they’d received one at some point. The most provocative tidbit from the study? A full 23% of people admitted to sharing with friends a sext they’d received (not just one friend, in fact, but an average of three friends). Not surprisingly, around 74% expressed discomfort in the idea of someone sharing one of their sexts with an outside party. The study’s abstract concluded by noting that “views on the impact of sexting on reputation suggest a contemporary struggle to reconcile digital eroticism with real-world consequence.”

So, your floridly descriptive sexts may just have a bigger audience than you thought! (Better remember to spell-check, in that case, particularly since some smartphones don’t seem willing to learn profane words.)

Featured image: Screenshot of Anny Aurora in Sexting Babes

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