Sexting is associated with multiple mental health problems, study shows

A new US study has found sexting was associated with depression, anxiety, poor sleeping patterns, and compulsive sexual behaviours.

Published in the peer-reviewed journal Cyberpsychology, Behaviour and Social Networking, the study found individuals who had only ever sent, not received, sexts – a text message containing explicit images of oneself – reported heightened experiences of depression, anxiety, and sleep problems.

Co-Author of the study, Nicholas C. Borgogna PhD, from Texas Tech University, also discovered a possible connection between sexting, marijuana use, and compulsive sexual behaviour.

The study said: ‘While sexting may not necessarily be a causal factor of negative mental health outcomes or substance use, some meaningful covariation clearly exists’.

Additionally, Brenda Kay Wiederhold, Editor in Chief of Cyberpsychology, Behaviour and Social Networking, said: ‘Over 50% of adults report sending a sext, while women are up to four times more likely than men to report having received non-consensual sexts.

‘Many individuals reveal they enjoy consensual sexting and feel it empowers them and builds self-confidence. Non-consensual sexts, however, can result in feelings of violation and awkwardness’.

Against this backdrop, a US study which was published on Thursday by the American Psychological Association, discovered that when young people cut back from social media their mental health improves.

Helen Thai, Author of the study, discovered her research showed that limiting screen time to around one hour a day helped teenagers and young adults feel better about their body image and their appearance overall.

Prompted by her own personal experiences to conduct the study, Helen Thai said: ‘What I noticed when I was engaging in social media was that I couldn’t help but compare myself [to celebrities and influencers]’.

The study, which contained volunteers aged between 17 to 25, included half of them reducing their screen time to 60 minutes per day for three weeks and the other half not limiting their time online at all.

Following this, Ms Thai found that amongst the group who cut down on social media, the overall score on appearance improved from 2.95 to a 3.15 on a five-point scale. Although this may not seem like a huge difference, the author believes any positive shift in how people view themselves is a perfect start.

Similarly, last year, a report published by the John Hopkins School of Medicine highlighted that those using the internet to either communicate, play games or participate in social media for more than four hours a day showed an increased risk of depression symptoms one year later.

Photo by Adem AY


Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Help us break the news – share your information, opinion or analysis
Back to top