Publications & Reports

Prevalence, correlates, and attitudes towards sexting among young people in Melbourne, Australia

Yeung T, Horyniak D, Vella A, Hellard M, Lim M


Background “Sexting” is the exchange of sexually-explicit material via communication technologies. Despite significant media attention, there has been little examination of sexting in the Australian setting. This study aimed to provide insight into sexting behaviours and attitudes among young Australians. Methods A cross-sectional survey was conducted with a convenience sample of people aged 16-29 attending a music festival (n=1372). Correlates of lifetime sexting were determined using multivariable logistic regression. Attitudes towards and perceived consequences of sexting were explored in focus group discussions (FGDs) with 39 young people. Results Forty per cent of survey participants reported that they had ever sent or received a sext (48% of males, 36% of females), most commonly with a regular partner. Lower levels of education, greater recreational spending, greater number of sexual partners, inconsistent condom use with a regular partner, identifying as being non-heterosexual, and risky alcohol consumption were all independent correlates of sexting. FGD participants made a clear distinction between consensual creating, sending, and possessing of sexts, and non-consensual sharing of sexts. Positive outcomes of consensual sexting included flirting and sexual experimentation, with sexting perceived as a normalised aspect of sexual interaction. Conclusions Sexting is a common and normalised practice among young Australians. Our findings highlight the distinction in young people’s minds between consensual sexting and the non-consensual sharing or circulation of sexts, which is not currently well recognised in sexuality education, the media, or the law.


  • Journal: Sexual Health
  • Published: 02/07/2014
  • Volume: 11
  • Issue: 4
  • Pagination: 332-339


Health Issue