Study among college students shows that 39.2% send sexual content via mobile phone or social networks
As many as 39.2% of young university students surveyed in a study carried out by Enrique García-Tort and Laura Monsalve Lorente, from the Department of Teaching and School Organisation at the University of Valencia, have practiced sexting: Sending sexual content via mobile phone or social media. The research also shows a correlation between moral assessment, risk perception and frequency, meaning its practice increases according to whether sexting is perceived more positively and/or safely.
A total 288 students from the University of Valencia belonging to the degrees of Pedagogy (66.7%), Teacher Training in Primary Education (25%) and Teacher Training in Integral Education (8.3%) participated in the surveys analyzed—degrees aimed mainly at education professionals. The study describes 39.2% of respondents as sexting practitioners. Therefore, it can be very useful to introduce concepts such as sexting in future and new fields of study related to sex education and in relation to the dangers that this practice can entail.
These surveys were conducted in a group of young adults of ages 18 to 25. It has been observed that the prevalence of sending one's own sexual material and its possible consequences, such as cyberbullying or sextortion, is higher in this age group than among the adolescent population, according to the prevalences of similar studies conducted on a population aged 12 to 16. The information was gathered through a battery of previously validated instruments, including a sexting behavior scale, an inventory of social media and applications, and a risk perception scale. All this was reviewed by teachers of the degree in Pedagogy. Data were collected on the frequency of practice, risk perception or style, and motivation of practice, among others.
In addition, 55.8% confessed to partaking regularly with their partner, while 44.2% exchanged sexual material mainly with third parties. Although variables such as sex or sexual orientation were assessed, these results were removed from the study, as 80.9% of the surveys were conducted on women and 90.6% on people who declared themselves heterosexual. These statistical distributions represent major limitations in the sample used in this study.
The study by Enrique García-Tort and Laura Monsalve Lorente, from the Department of Didactics and School Organisation at the University of Valencia and members of the Curriculum, Resources and Educational Institutions research group (CRIE-UV), also shows the significant correlations between the moral assessment of the practice and its risk perception. That is, the better the moral assessment and the lower the perception of risk, the higher the frequency of the practice.
The researchers highlight that "although sexting is not a widespread practice among young adults, few have not had any kind of interaction related to this practice. This may be due to the current ubiquity of smartphones and the growth of social media." However, there is clear evidence of a possible bias in adolescents and young adults when declaring the practice of sexting through questionnaires, as studies often show a higher rate of images received than of images sent.