How many times have you been at the receiving end of an unwanted sext? While sharing sexual images with consent may not have any negative impact on our mental health, recent studies have shown that receiving unwanted sexts and being forced to send the same, is linked to mental health distress.
What is sexting??
First things first, sexting is actually sending or receiving sexual images and even sexually explicit messages using a digital device like computer and smartphones.
What is the study?According to an article called ‘Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking’ receiving unwanted sexts is actually linked to mental health distress including anxiety, depression and even low self-esteem. The primary analysis also links nervousness and low vanity with undesirable sexting.
Why was the study conducted?
The research was actually conducted to seek further clarity on the findings of a previous study, which had found that sexting itself was linked to depression and anxiety. The researchers further added, “We recruited a convenience sample of young adults to test the hypothesis that sexting might be associated with poorer mental health. Our results showed no association between receiving or sending sexts overall. However, receiving unwanted sexts, or sexting under coercion, was associated with higher depression, anxiety, and stress symptoms, and lower self-esteem and these two sexting experiences were independent predictors of psychological distress.”
The importance of consent
They elaborated, “One potential explanation for the discrepancies in findings on sexting and mental health may be how willingly a person receives or sends the sext. In one study, 52.3 per cent of young adults had consensually engaged in sexting behaviours, despite reporting not wanting to do so. Motivations for this behaviour included flirtation, foreplay, to fulfil a partner’s needs, or for intimacy reasons. As already noted, it could be that psychological distress impairs an individual’s decision-making processes, and, therefore, they are more inclined to send a sext when they do not want to.elaborate.”
Interestingly, the researchers also found that men were more prone to being distressed when compared to women when experiencing non-consensual sexting.
The bottom line
Since the sample size of the research is pretty small (444 participants), it cannot be called an exhaustive study on the effect of consensual and coerced texting. Ultimately, one fact remains pretty clear that no one really enjoys nude pictures or sexually explicit content when received without consent or even forced to send the same.
Additionally, the research has also found that the ripple effect of such a creepy act can cause anxiety, stress and even depression. So, the next time you feel compelled to send something you are not comfortable with, remind yourself that nothing is worth hampering your mental health and peace of mind.