Maybe sexting wasn't quite the crisis they warned us about

A meta-analysis of 15 published studies concluded that "although sexting might be an indicator of risky sexual practices, it is not a particularly good one."


Sexting and its potential links to sexual behavior have garnered significant scholarly scrutiny in recent years, but this literature is marked by divergent perspectives and disparate findings (Doring, 2014). The deviance perspective that dominates this literature assumes that sexting is a risky practice and, therefore, should be associated with other risky practices, such as having multiple sex partners or unprotected sex; however, an emerging normalcy discourse challenges these assumptions (Cooper et al., 2016). To assess these claims, we conducted a meta-analytic and critical review of published research on sexting and its relationship to sexual behavior. Our review revealed several trends in the sexting literature, including the types of study designs and samples that were most common. In addition, we uncovered considerable variability in how sexting was measured across the 15 studies including in our analysis. Despite this variability, our meta-analysis was able to parse out significant relationships between sexting and three aspects of sexual behavior: general sexual activity, history of unprotected sex, and number of sexual partners. The following sections describe possible explanations for and implications of each of these findings.

Sexting and Sexual Behavior, 2011–2015: A Critical Review and Meta-Analysis of a Growing Literature (Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication via Scienmag)

Image: Mike Licht