A growing awareness around the dos and don’ts relating to sexting is one of the trends revealed in the summary of Burnet’s 2018 Sex, Drugs and Rock’n’Roll (SDRR) survey of young people’s sexual behaviours, alcohol and other drug use, mental health and pornography use.
“We defined sexting as the sharing of sexually explicit content through technology, which could be smart phones or social media or any other form of technology,” project coordinator, Caitlin Douglass said.
“We know from previous research that it’s a common practice among young people and it’s considered a normal part of relationships, however there can also be negative outcomes, particularly where sexting is coerced or pressured or non-consensual.”
According to the 2018 SDRR survey, 63 percent of participants reported they had sent a sext of themselves to someone else, 71 percent had received a sext from someone else, and 13 percent reported that someone else had shared a sext of them without permission.
The survey suggests the participants’ understanding of the laws around sexting is growing.
In 2015, 59 percent of respondents knew that it’s illegal in Victoria to forward a sext without permission. This percentage has risen every year to 77 percent in the latest survey.
“The findings are preliminary, but it does suggest that awareness around legislation is increasing, and it’s good that more people are aware,” Ms Douglass said.
“We didn’t ask young people about whether they’d seen any of the media campaigns that have been released in the past year or so, like the ‘Me Too’ campaign or the campaigns around sexual harassment and sexual assault in universities.”
“We know that sexting can occur within intimate relationships or between friends and in casual dating, and it would be interesting to look into this further to investigate the context of the behaviour and its effects.”
The SDRR survey has been conducted annually online since 2015, building on the survey of young people attending Melbourne’s Big Day Out music festival from 2005 to 2014.
The 2018 SDRR survey summary is available for download here, or find out more about Burnet’s research into young people’s health.