You’ve Got Sexts

A new Pew study indicates that the prevalence sexting is rapidly rising:

In previous surveys, those in their mid-twenties through mid-thirties were dish_sextingchart the most likely to both send and receive sexts. For the first time, however, those ages 18-24 are the most likely of any age group to say they receive sexts (44%). This represents a significant increase from 2012, when 26% of those 18-24 said they received sexts. … Sexting … is not just for daters. Adults in marriages or committed relationships are just as likely to say they have sent sexually suggestive texts as single individuals. Some 9% of those in a  relationship have sent sexts, along with 10% of those not in a relationship.

The trend shows little signs of stopping:

Karen McDevitt, a communications lecturer at Wayne State University who specializes in new media, says she expects the sexting phenomenon to continue growing and attributed its increased popularity to the widespread availability of devices like smartphones. “The technology is in your hand,” McDevitt says, “I truly believe it’s just accessibility that makes the difference.”

Amanda Hess zooms out:

Could we be entering an era where using technology for titillation doesn’t mean opening ourselves up to exploitation?

In 2003, New Jersey made it a felony to distribute sexual photos of another person without his or her permission, but it took a decade for the campaign against nonconsensual pornography to begin to gain traction around the world. Last year, California made forwarding a sext without consent a misdemeanor crime. Steubenville, Ohio, football player Trent Mays was convicted in juvenile court of raping a 16-year-old girl but also of distributing images of the assault after the fact; his text messaging doubled his sentence from one year to two. Just last month, American revenge-porn king Hunter Moore was busted by the feds for allegedly hacking into email accounts to steal sexual photos, and Israeli legislators passed a bill banning the dissemination of sexualized images without the subject’s explicit consent. There, distributors now face five years in prison. …

[L]ooking at Pew’s new numbers … it’s increasingly clear that dialing up sexual experiences doesn’t come with the expectation that those experiences will migrate to a group text. Most people who receive sexts don’t share them with the class, and it’s not stupid to expect your sexting partners to keep your privates private. It’s simply humane.