Married couples sext just as much as singles

Martine Sansoucy

When it comes to explicit smartphone activity, married couples are just as likely to engage as their single friends, a new survey reveals.

Sexting - a term defined by the Oxford English Dictionary in August 2011 as "the sending of sexually explicit photographs or messages via mobile phone" - is something that 9 per cent of those 'in a relationship' admit to having done, along with 10% of those 'not in a relationship'.

However, the numbers do not correlate with the receiving of sexts. Eighteen per cent of those 'in a relationship' say they have received a sext, with 25% of those 'not in a relationship' also reporting receiving one.

The figures are the results of Pew Research's Internet Project, which surveyed 2,252 American adults between April and May 2013.

Overall, 9 per cent of those interviewed admitted to having sent a sext, a notable increase from 6 per cent in 2012.

Twenty per cent of all those interviewed also reported having received a sext from someone they knew, up from 15 per cent in 2012.

Factors that influence sexting habits include age, length of relationship, use of online dating, and among singles who describe themselves as 'looking'.

Forty-two per cent of the group who called themselves 'single and looking' received sexts compared with 21 per cent among the 'single and not looking'.

The sending rates differ more widely, with 23 per cent of the 'looking' singles confirming they themselves had sexted at one time or another, while only 6 per cent of the 'not looking' category declared partaking in that kind of activity.

The increase in those actively seeking a relationship is also seen reflected in the figures for the use of online dating.

Of those who regularly use services like OkCupid or Match.com, 55 per cent have received a sext, and 31 per cent have sent one. Only 16 per cent who do not seek out a potential other half on the net reported receiving a sext, while as few as 6 per cent had ever sent one.

It also seems that those who have been together longer are substantially less interested in explicit smartphone exploits.

Of respondents who said they had been in their current relationship for more than 10 years, only 6 per cent claimed to have received a sext, while only 2 per cent had ever sent one.

Conversely, those whose relationship was less than 10-years-old were far more sextually active, with 32 per cent reporting receiving such a message, and 17 per cent admitting to sending one.

The age group that receives the most sexts would be, according to Pew Research, the 18 to 24-year-olds, of whom 44 per cent confirmed that such a message had found its way somehow into their smartphone inbox.

The most prolific sexters by age are the 25 to 34-year-olds, of whom 22 per cent admitted to having sexted someone at some point, although the research did not go into the detail of how old they were when they sent such a message.

Older groups are involved in sexting, but overall less so. Among 35 to 44-year-olds, 22 per cent have received a sext, and 11 per cent have sent one. For 45 to 54-year-olds, the receiving and sending numbers drop to 15 per cent and 5 per cent respectively, and for the over 55-year-olds, 4 per cent have received a sext while less than 1 per cent reported having sent one.

A trend that was universal across all groups was the infrequency of forwarding sexts to others.  Only 3 per cent of those surveyed confessed to ever having forwarded a sext, a figure that remained unchanged from 2012.

Those most likely to forward a sext were the 'looking' singles (10 per cent) and those who use online dating (9 per cent).

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