Before you send that sext or dick pick, check it: According to new research from North Carolina State University, sexting is pretty much pointless—or at least does not correlate to actual sex. We humble journalists remain skeptical.
These days a high volume of teens and young adults send sexually suggestive messages or risque photos of themselves to each other, but NC State’s research has found that sexting is only moderately or loosely tied to real-life sexual behavior with others.
The researchers found 234 journal articles that looked at sexting, then removed studies that didn’t look at the relationship between sexting and behavior, as well as any studies that didn’t include clearly defined quantitative measures of sexting or sexual behavior.
Ultimately, this process narrowed it down to 15 studies that looked at whether there was any link between sexting and: sexual activity; unprotected sex; and/or the number of sex partners one has.
The analysts found that there was a weak statistical relationship between sexting and all of those categories, and that was when looking solely at correlation. It was impossible to tell if sexting actually influenced behavior at all.
In fact, researchers were hindered by the fact that there’s no standard academic definition of sexting. Some counted only text messages, while others included videos and photos, for example. Definitions varied widely from paper to paper.
“There are two take-home messages here,” says Andrew Binder, co-author of the review and an associate professor of communication at NC State. “First is that sexting does not appear to pose a public health threat to America’s youth, so don’t panic. Second, if this is something we want to study, we need to design better studies. For example, the field needs a common, clear definition of what we mean by sexting, as well as more robust survey questions and methods.”
All of this scientific s**t doesn’t mean sexting isn’t fun, though. Let’s be real, who doesn’t like to get that smirk on their face when they read or see something naughty from their significant other while at work? You know messages like those still get you going and make you rush home like no other. So we say, carry on.
Assuming your name isn’t Anthony Weiner, of course.