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The Issue of Data Privacy When It Comes to Sexting

Please note! This essay has been submitted by a student.

With the increase in mobile phones and their popularity in general, it is no wonder sexting has become so rampant. People of all ages and gender are actively taking part in sexting and it has brought a lot of attention to the matter because it is easy for even underage people to take part. At the college level, it is obvious that there is a lot of sexting that is happening. The question is how much?

Sexting can be defined as the act of sending sexual messages, pictures and phones by the use of a mobile phone or communication device. This study goes ahead to review a total of 1652 undergraduate student. The researchers aim was to find out how frequent these individuals were sexting, why they were sexting as well as what the demographics were. A combination of male and female students of all races took the survey and there were interesting results.

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There was the obvious underlying factor that the female students were feeling much more pressured to sext as opposed to their male counterparts. The reason that sexting is so widely spread is the fact that by using a mobile phone, one can hide behind the device and show a whole other side to who they actually are.

It is easier to send a text message and say all kinds of things that you simply can’t say in person. This is the psychology of sexting. It is easier to role play as a sexy god behind a screen than it would be for most people to for the same in real life. That is exactly why the spread of using phones as a way of initiating, maintaining or progressing relationships has quickly escalated into a platform where people can satisfy a plethora of sexual fantasies virtually.

This interesting study revealed that at least 4% of teens have sent a sext and at least 15% have received. This number increases the older people get with at least 32% of young adults having sent or posted a nude or semi-nude picture of themselves and 46% having received one. They also found that at least 33% of young adults between 18-24 have taken part in one type or other of naked sexting. Women have sent more sext messages at 83% than men at 75% overall.

Evaluation of the Research

This research was done to look at the prevalence of sexting among a group of young adults at the college level. This was done to find out if it had any long standing negative effects to the people involved and whether this is a matter of concern. It also hoped to figure out what the attitude of those involved was.

This research was conducted by four individuals with different fields of interest. Their interests lay in a combination of health studies, statistics and sociology as seen below. These people were:

  1. Sloane Burke Winkelman, Ph.D., CHES Department of Health Sciences, California State University, Northridge
  2. Karen Vail Smith Department of Health Education Promotion, East Carolina University
  3. Jason Brinkley Department of Biostatistics, East Carolina University
  4. David Knox Department of Sociology, East Carolina University

This research was conducted to ensure the ever growing sexting culture is not harmful and if it was, they wanted to deduce to what extent this was. The method that was used to do this research was by using a sample population of 1652 individuals. These individuals filled out a survey of questions that were directed to answer the question of just how rampant the sexting issue was and who was doing it. they kept the identity of the respondents private as this was private information from the individuals.

The survey had an overall higher number of female students than it did male students at 62% and 38% respectively. The average age of the people involved in this study was between 18 and 19 years old.

The survey used had a total of five demographic items including age, ethnicity, sex, residency and class standing. There were a total of 22 other survey items that were primarily to allow data on sexting behaviour and attitudes to be reviewed in depth.

The likely bias to this study was the fact there was a larger number of female students conducting the study. This meant that there was a high chance that the females who sent a text as initiators was bound to be higher than their male counterparts. A better way would be to have a more or less equal number of both genders in order to get more revealing data.

Another factor that would have given more revealing data would have been to widen the scope of the research. Since only 18 and 19year old were the people interviewed, there is a high likelihood that the behaviour could be a bit different with individuals slightly older and young adults outside of college. This can’t be deduced from looking at the data given due to a more limited scope.

The subjects involved having been health science, Biostatistics, sociology and health education were able to deduce that sexting was viewed positively by those involved. It revealed that at least 59% of the respondents enjoyed receiving these messages. Around 40% of the males found that the texts were ‘hot’ and 11% found these messages as ‘slutty’. In contrast only 21% of the females found these texts as hot.

The conclusion was that the bigger percentage of respondents enjoyed this type of messaging. It was a matter that is seen to be consensual and people do it for an array of reasons. These include foreplay, boredom, for enjoyment, to progress the relationship with a potential partner or to keep things heated with a current partner.

The limitations that this study faced were first, the fact that the sample population was very small compared to the number of people within that same age group across the country and the world. Larger sample populations are needed to confirm these findings as being true or not. There was also a very small representation of the LGBTQ community as their heterosexual counterparts were the larger demographic.

There was also the immense use of quantitative as opposed to qualitative data. This led to a limited scope in the study as there was no way to add insight to the numerical data that was provided. Self-reporting was the main method used to collect data. This means that there was no way that the researchers could verify whether or not the respondents were actually being truthful.

As a final word, the research revealed that sexting in general is harmless. The only potential problem is with data privacy. The consequences of people having their private pictures posted online could have way more implications than the actual act of sexting.  

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