From randy US Senators mailing crotch-shots to women they’ve never even met to horny university students and high school kids, the world has a new kinky hobby: sexting. In case you’ve been holidaying on the moon for the last few years, sexting, a term first coined in a 2005 article in the British Sunday Telegraph Magazine, refers to the act of sending sexually explicit messages and photographs, usually by cell phone, but also via other electronic media.
It’s a bit like old-fashioned phone sex, but without the constant struggle of having to stop yourself from breaking into uncontrollable giggling fits over the other person’s attempts of putting on a sexy voice while describing what they’re wearing and exactly what they’d like to do to you.
Although it’s tricky to get an accurate picture of the popularity of sexting, a number of surveys suggest that it’s more widespread than you might think. A 2008 Cosmogirl.com survey of 1280 young adults (20 to 26 years old) and teenagers (younger than 20) found that 59% of the former and 39% of the latter had sent sexually explicit text messages. Some 20% of teens and 33% of young adults also admitted to having sent nude or semi-nude pictures of themselves to others electronically.
A recent study involving 204 US college students suggests that sexting is “rampant”, with more than half of the participants claiming that they’d been sent sexual images on their phones. Almost 80% of them said they’d received suggestive text messages.
Women do it, too!
An American study entitled Let my fingers do the talking: Sexting and infidelity in cyberspace, published in the academic journal Sexuality and Culture last month, contents that, while they tended to start more slowly, with the cyber equivalent of foreplay, women were more likely to send explicit messages and nude photographs of themselves than men. The authors suggest that “cheating is alive and well, and sexting is on the rise”.
Sexting definitely isn’t for everyone. Think carefully about what you might be getting yourself into before you let your penis do all the talking! Also, there is some sexting etiquette you might want to familiarise yourself with before you plunge headlong into the unknown. Here are some helpful tips and suggestions:
- Sexting between consenting partners can be a fun way to add some excitement to your sex life.
- Never send a sexually explicit message or picture unless you’re sure the gesture will be welcomed by the recipient. If you’re unsure, start slowly and cautiously with material that can’t be misconstrued as offensive and gauge how the other person responds before you become more adventurous. If you’re not careful, things can quickly turn from a bit of fun into the seriously creepy and potentially criminal.
- If you wouldn’t say something out loud, you probably shouldn’t be sexting it either.
- Familiarise yourself with some of the commonly-used sexting lingo before you get totally confused. For instance, TDTM means “talk dirty to me”, GYPO is “get your pants off” and LMIRL stands for “let’s meet in real life”.
- Remember that once you’ve sent something out into cyberspace it generally can’t be undone. Pictures and messages can be easily, quickly and widely distributed and copied out of your control, so unless you want that to happen, be sure that you only send them to people you can trust with your privacy.
- Before you engage in sexting with someone who is not your regular real life partner, think carefully about whether sexting constitutes a form of infidelity or cheating and how you feel about that.
- There are very, very serious concerns about child pornography connected with sexting. Make 100% sure that your sexting partners are consenting adults and do whatever you can to protect children!
- If you have kids yourself, talk to them honestly and openly about the potential dangers of sexting. Discuss their rights and responsibilities and set rules for their use of cell phone and online messaging. Always encourage them to come to you whenever they feel unsure or worried about anything.