The Sexual Landscape of Youth: How Adolescents From the U.S. Make Sense of Sexting

Elizabeth A. Daniels, Leah Dajches, Larissa Terán, Heather Gahler, Hye Jeong Choi, Ashton Speno, Jennifer Stevens Aubrey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The present study examined the role of sexting in adolescents’ peer environment and romantic relationships with attention to gender patterns. Thirty adolescent girls and boys (ages 16 or 17) of varying racial/ethnic background residing in Los Angeles or Phoenix participated in in-depth interviews about their experiences and attitudes toward sexting. Thematic analysis was used to analyze the interview data. In total, we identified 5 main themes and 15 subthemes. Participants reported that sexting is normal in their peer groups (Main theme #1 Everyone’s Doing It) and that sexting occurs within a cultural milieu of the sexual double standard (Main theme #2 Sexual Double Standard). They described sexting as a part of expressing romantic interest in someone and playing a role in defining and furthering romantic relationships (Main theme #3 Romantic Relationships). Participants also identified social (Main theme #4 Social Consequences) as well as psychological and long-term consequences of sexting (Main theme #5 Psychological or Long-Term Consequences). Findings of this study have implications for educational interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Adolescent Research
StateAccepted/In press - 2024


  • adolescents
  • heterosexual script
  • mental health
  • objectification
  • sexting
  • sexual double standard

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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