Sexting associated with several mental health problems, study shows

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A new study has shown that sexting was associated with depression, anxiety, sleep problems, and compulsive sexual behaviors. The study is published in the peer-reviewed journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking.

Sexting is defined as sending a sexually explicit image of oneself over text messaging. Sexting can include sending only, receiving only or "reciprocal" (sending and receiving) use of messages.

Nicholas C. Borgogna PhD, from Texas Tech University, and coauthors, found that participants who had only ever sent (but not received) sexts reported more depression, anxiety, and sleep problems than the other groups. They also reported a possible connection between sexting, marijuana use, and compulsive sexual behavior.

"While sexting may not necessarily be a causal factor of negative mental health outcomes or substance use, some meaningful covariation clearly exists," stated the investigators.

"Over 50% of adults report sending a sext, while women are up to four times more likely than men to report having received nonconsensual sexts. Many individuals reveal they enjoy consensual sexting and feel it empowers them and builds self-confidence. Nonconsensual sexts, however, can result in feelings of violation and awkwardness," says Editor-in-Chief Brenda K. Wiederhold, PhD, MBA, BCB, BCN, Interactive Media Institute, San Diego, California and Virtual Reality Medical Center, La Jolla, California.

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