Teen Girls Who Post Sexy Selfies Are More Willing to Engage in Sexting
There are growing concerns about young people’s sexy self-portrayals on social media. Such behavior might lead to sexting: the exchange of sexually explicit or nude pictures of oneself via the Internet. A study in Journal of Adolescence indeed shows that youngsters who more often post sexy selfies on social media are also more willing to engage in sexting. However, this only holds for teenage girls, and not for teenage boys, nor for male and female young adults.
- Teen girls who more frequently post sexy selfies are also more willing to engage in sexting.
- This does not apply to teen boys, nor to male and female young adults.
- The viewing of sexy selfies of others is not related to teens’ and young adults’ willingness to engage in sexting.
- Youth workers could use social media as a means to identify teenage girls who are at risk because of their sexy selfies.
Are teens and young adults who post sexy selfies or view sexy selfies of others on social media more willing to engage in sexting, and what is the role of sex and age in this association?
953 teens (aged 13-17 years old, 51% male) and 899 young adults (aged 18-25 years old, 44% male)
Teens and young adults were randomly selected to participate in the study through the database of the Dutch research agency Veldkamp. Teens and young adults who wanted (and were allowed) to participate answered two online surveys, with two months in between. The surveys contained questions about how often they posted sexy selfies (i.e., whether in the past two months they posted a picture on social media portraying themselves with a sexy gaze, sexy appearance, scantily dressed, and in sexy posture) and how often they viewed sexy selfies of others (i.e., whether in the past two months they deliberately sought pictures of others portraying themselves with a sexy gaze, sexy appearance, scantily dressed, and in sexy posture). Moreover, they were asked how willing they were to engage in sexting (i.e., how likely it would be for them to send a [half] naked online picture of themselves to their partner, someone they are dating, a friend, a stranger or their ex-partner). Only teens and young adults who indicated to use social media (e.g., Facebook, Instagram) were included in the study.
Facts and findings
- Teens and young adults differed in the degree to which they posted sexy selfies and the degree to which they were willing to engage in sexting:
- Teen girls and young adult women less often posted sexy selfies than teen boys and young adult men;
- Young adult women were less willing to sext than young adult men;
- Teen boys and young adult men did not differ in their willingness to sext;
- Teen girls were less willing to sext than teen boys, young adult women, and young adult men.
- In general, teens and young adults who more frequently posted sexy selfies did not report a higher willingness to engage in sexting.
- However, when taking into account sex and age, it appeared that only teen girls who more frequently posted sexy selfies were also more willing to engage in sexting.
- Teens and young adults who more frequently viewed sexy selfies of others were not more willing to engage in sexting.
- Critical note. These findings are based on associations and no conclusions can be drawn about cause and effect. This means that it could also be the case that youngsters who are more willing to sext post more sexy selfies.