The Prevalence of Sexting Behaviors Among Emerging Adults: A Meta-Analysis

Camille Mori, Jessica E. Cooke, Jeff R. Temple, Anh Ly, Yu Lu, Nina Anderson, Christina Rash, Sheri Madigan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Sexting is the sharing of sexually explicit images, videos, and/or messages via electronic devices. Prevalence estimates of sexting have varied substantially, potentially due to broad age ranges being examined. The current study sought to synthesize relevant findings examining the prevalence of consensual and non-consensual sexting in a specific developmental period, emerging adulthood (≥ 18–< 29), to try to explain discrepancies in the literature. Searches were conducted in electronic databases for articles published up to April 2018. Relevant data from 50 studies with 18,122 emerging adults were extracted. The prevalence of sexting behaviors were: sending 38.3% (k = 41; CI 32.0–44.6), receiving 41.5% (k = 19; CI 31.9–51.2), and reciprocal sexting 47.7% (k = 16; CI 37.6–57.8). Thus, sexting is a common behavior among emerging adults. The prevalence of non-consensual forwarding of sexts was also frequent in emerging adults at 15.0% (k = 7; CI 6.9–23.2). Educational awareness initiatives on digital citizenship and psychological consequences of the non-consensual forwarding of sexts should be targeted to youth and emerging adults with the hopes of mitigating this potentially damaging and illegal behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1103-1119
Number of pages17
JournalArchives of Sexual Behavior
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 1 2020


  • Emerging adults
  • Meta-analysis
  • Sexting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • General Psychology


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