Publications & Reports

Exploring attitudes towards sexting of young people: a cross-sectional study.

Lim MS, Vella AM, Horyniak DR, Hellard ME


Background: Sexting is a common emerging phenomenon. This study aims to explore young people’s attitudes towards sexting. Methods: Participants (n=469, age range 15-29 years) were recruited at a music festival and self-completed a questionnaire. Attitudes towards sexting were assessed using a series of seven statements, rated on a five-point Likert scale from ‘strongly agree’ to ‘strongly disagree’. Correlates of sexting attitudes were determined using multivariable regression. Results: Forty-six percent of respondents reported ever sexting. Most (88%) agreed ‘It’s risky for a girl to send a naked picture of herself,’ fewer agreed with the statement ‘It’s risky for a boy to send a naked picture of himself’ (77%). Thirty percent agreed that ‘If someone I’d just started seeing sent me a sext I might show it to some friends,’ however, only 14% might do the same with a sext from a boyfriend or girlfriend (this did not differ by sex). More permissive attitudes to sexting were associated with being male, lower sexual health knowledge, inconsistent condom use with casual partners, and higher alcohol consumption. Conclusions: Although the majority of young people surveyed agreed that sexting was risky it was a common practice. Given the potential psychosocial impact of sharing sexts without consent, it was concerning that up to a third of participants indicated they might do so. The findings of this study have implications for informing education on sexting.

Link to publisher’s web site


  • Journal: Sexual Health
  • Published: 07/10/2016
  • Volume: 13
  • Issue: 6
  • Pagination: 530-535