Sexting, a contraction of the Anglo-Saxon terms “sex” and “texting” is the sending of photos or texts of a sexual nature. Widely used by young people by SMS, on Snapchat, Whatsapp or Instagram, “sexting” refers to these words or images which thus titillate the eye and the libido of the recipients.
Will the period of confinement that has begun be the golden age of sexting?
The practice, in any case, is well established among some young people. In 2017, Michelle Drouin, teacher-researcher at Indiana University (United States), conducted a study on sexting among students at her institution ("Is sexting good for romantic relationships? depends "). Of its sample of students averaging 19.7 years old, 62 % said they had sent or received a “sexually explicit photo”. "It's part of the sexuality of the 21st century," says the psychologist specializing in the relationship between technology and sexuality.
Contrary to what many young people think, sexting serves less to rekindle the flame than to maintain the bond. In short, expressing one's sexual desires to the other in words or images is fundamentally nothing revolutionary.
But many people point out the positive aspects. “Sexting can help nurture a long-distance relationship,” admits Michelle Drouin. A 20-year-old graduate student in sociology recounts:
I am far from my boyfriend, we only see each other once or twice a month. Sexting keeps us connected and allows us to maintain privacy
What are the consequences of sexting?
Once you send a photo on your mobile, it is no longer yours, and you cannot control how the recipients will use it or the effect it will have on your reputation.
It has never been easier to transmit and save traces of an error or a bad action to show them to othersAmanda Lenhart, Researcher at the Pew Research Center and author of an investigation into sexting
Sometimes photos of a naked person are uploaded en masse by the recipient to amuse his friends. After being dumped by their girlfriends, some boys take revenge by posting pictures of them all naked.
The practice of sexting leads to risky sexual behavior in adolescents and has negative consequences on their mental health, according to a new study from JAMA Pediatrics. This digitization of sexual exchanges has prompted these adolescents to have several sexual partners, to do without contraception, to consume cigarettes, alcohol or drugs. It also increases the risk of suffering from anxiety or depression.
In many cases, sending pictures of a naked girl or boy has been equated with child sexual abuse or the dissemination of pornographic images of a minor. Some young people who sent sext have been tried as sex offenders.
How to reduce this habit among young people?
Treating it punitive may not be the most effective way to get young people interested in it. In the future, education campaigns should aim to provide young people with comprehensive information about sexting and digital citizenship.