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Sexting and psychological distress: the role of unwanted and coerced sexts

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.

History

Journal

Cyberpsychology, behavior, and social networking

Volume

22

Issue

4

Pagination

237 - 242

Publisher

Mary Ann Liebert

Location

New Rochelle, N.Y.

ISSN

1094-9313

eISSN

2152-2723

Language

eng

Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2019, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.