SEXTING: A growing concern for adult’s mental health

SEXTING: A growing concern for adult’s mental health


In this growing digital world, where there are online dating apps and social media platforms, something that is growing is sexting. Sexting is sending or receiving sexually explicit messages, photographs, and videos, mostly through mobile phone and even computers or any other digital device. It has been a trend since the advent of internet and social media messaging platforms. Sexting usually occurs between people who are in a romantic relationship, but in this age of situationship, and casual dating it can happen between any two people who might be acquaintances or even strangers.

While it can be harmless and even fun when it is consensual and there is a trust between the partners who are sexting, there can be harmful effects of the same if the person you are sexting uses your images and videos for the wrong purpose. When you are sexting, you are exposing yourself to a very dangerous risk of cyberbullying, blackmailing, usage of your personal images without your permission.

Also Read: The Impact of Technology on Sexual Behavior

Positive and negative aspects of sexting:

Sexting can have a both positive and negative effect on a person’s mental wellbeing:

If it is consensual, sexting can have positive aspects, which include:
  1. It provides a way into sexual exploration.
  2. It increases sexual intimacy between partners, making them more comfortable with each other.
  3. It has been revealed through studies, that it can infer similar neurochemical reaction as in person sex. Like dopamine and oxytocin release, which provides you with a sense of well-being and happiness.
  4. In long distance relationships it gives a way for sexual expression of their desire and longing.
  5. Also, as it can be a way out of comfort zone which may make one realize their hidden sexual feelings and sexual exploration.
If it is coerced or forced it can have severe negative impacts on mental wellbeing, which include:
  • People who send sext, but don’t receive, may feel anxious and have sleep problems.
  • People who feel forced to send sext have a constant fear of judgement and anxiety.
  • Sexting has a very close ties with self and body confidence. Therefore, if the person makes fun of or doesn’t accept the sext it has a profound impact of the sixth body image and self-esteem.
  • If the pictures or videos are used and spread across the internet, it can cause shame, guilt, and embarrassment to the person.
  • These cases of cyberbullying have also led to depression and suicidal tendencies among the people.
  • Sexting can cause increased sexual behavior leading to sexual addiction.

Also Read: Psychology of online dating

Research on sexting and mental health

There has been a lot of research on sexting and its possible mental health outcomes. This behavior is mostly prevalent in adolescents and young adults, as they have a developing prefrontal cortex which makes them prone to risky behaviors. A research based on the association of sexting with sexual behaviors and mental health among adolescents found that adolescent sexting significantly associated with sexual activity, multiple sexual partners, lack of contraception use, delinquent behavior, internalizing problems, and substance use. (camille mori, june 2019).

Sexting gone wrong can have a great deal of toll on mental health as the person may feel socially isolated, lonely, feeling that they are being judged, leading to anxiety and even depression. Research also suggests a connection between sexting and sexual addiction, which means engaging in more sexual activities daily. This may result in crossing limits and delinquent activities including harassment cases.

Sex and sexting, a social taboo:

Going by the Indian cultural context, sex has always been a taboo subject. Though things might be changing now, it hasn’t fully changed. Therefore, sexting can have severe social consequences. As it may bring guilt and shame for the people who engage in this behavior. Also, the people who go through sextortion because of sexting might not be able to say anything to anyone about it and give in to the blackmailer. Many a times, there is a lack of support from society when a person’s sexual images or videos go viral on the internet, this results in people taking grave steps out of shame and guilt.

Or even casual sexting between adolescents found out by parents can cause parental backlash leading to stress and anxiety among them. In these cases, it is important for parents to have a supportive and understanding way to handle this situation to avoid negative mental health outcomes for the adolescent.

Also Read: Online Dating Cause and effect

Safe sexting

Given everything, we do know the benefits of sexting and how it can improve a romantic relationship and provide a way for sexual expression. It’s just that we should be careful of what we are doing and know the underlying risks of it.

If you want to engage in sexting behavior with a person, put forward your wish. If both of you agree on it, go about it slowly creating a comfortable space for both of you. Check on the privacy settings of the application you are using to avoid any kind of mishappening. And please be sensitive while commenting on the sext as it can have a psychological impact on the other person. And if by chance there is a breakup in the relationship be mindful enough to respect the boundary and never indulge in illegal vengeful activities, of sharing others person’s videos or photographs.

Also Read: The Mind of the Victims of Sextortion

If the other person denies on your request of sending a sext, please respect their decision and stop their itself. And if you are in a romantic relationship with that person making them comfortable and give them autonomy to deny your wish if it makes them uncomfortable. If you are receiving unwarranted sext from a stranger then you must report the account and get help. This way you can keep yourself away from the severe mental consequences of sexting, And have a safe experience while doing it.


camille mori, j. r. (june 2019). association of sexting with sexual behaviors and mental health among adolescents. Jama pediatrics.

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