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Sexting and psychological distress: the role of unwanted and coerced sexts
journal contributionposted on 2019-04-01, 00:00 authored by Bianca KlettkeBianca Klettke, David HallfordDavid Hallford, Elizabeth ClancyElizabeth Clancy, David MellorDavid Mellor, John ToumbourouJohn Toumbourou
Sexting (e.g., conveying nude electronic images) is now common among young adults. Despite leading to negative consequences for some (e.g., harassment and unwanted dissemination), findings regarding sexting behaviors and mental health variables have been mixed. We recruited a convenience sample of young adults (N = 444, M age = 20, SD = 1) to test the hypothesis that sexting might be associated with poorer mental health. Our results showed no association between receiving or sending sexts overall. However, receiving unwanted sexts, or sexting under coercion, was associated with higher depression, anxiety, and stress symptoms, and lower self-esteem, and these two sexting experiences were independent predictors of psychological distress. The relationship between these sexting behaviors with poor mental health was moderated by gender, with poorer outcomes for males receiving unwanted sexts. These findings indicate a possible moderating factor in sexting and mental health.