Sexting Behaviors Among College Students: Cause for Concern?

Andrew B. Perkins, Judith V. Becker, Melissa Tehee, Emily Mackelprang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Objectives: Sexting, defined as the transmission of sexually suggestive or explicit pictures or videos via mobile phone, has garnered considerable attention in both the public and research sectors. In popular culture, sexting has received considerable negative attention in regards to potential risk. Methods: The present study examined the prevalence of sexting behaviors among 287 volunteer students attending a university in the Southwest United States, as well as the extent to which concerns about sexting appear to be founded or unfounded. Results: Responses indicated that 38% of the participants had sent and/or received sexts during the past 6 months. Of those who engaged in sexting in the past 6 months, 84% had sent 1 to 10 sexts and 88% had received 1 to 10 sexts. Most respondents (64%) indicated that they had sent nude or seminude sexts for consensual sexual reasons. Of those individuals, 87% who reported sending sexts and 71% who reported receiving sexts indicated that the sexting occurred during a romantic relationship. Those who engaged in nude sexting had an earlier age of initiation into sexual behavior and had more sexual partners. Participants who had sent and received nude sexts also had some evidence of risky behavior including drug use and behavior problems in childhood. Additionally, participants who did not engage in sexting scored lower on measures of hostility toward women. Conclusions: Despite these findings, the overall study suggests that sexting may not be a cause for concern. Possible positive aspects of sexting and recommendations for future research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)79-92
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Sexual Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Sexting
  • college
  • cybersex
  • sexuality
  • technology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Social Psychology
  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Dermatology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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