Sexting prevalence in high-school students depends on the addressee, media format, explicitness of sexts, and gender

Cristian Molla-Esparza*, Josep María Losilla, Emelina López-González

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


This study aims to contribute to the current literature on adolescent sexting prevalence by reporting an accurate description and characterisation of participants based on the adolescent sexting scale A-SextS as a standardised measurement instrument. The study includes a convenience sample of 579 Spanish secondary students (52.7% boys; interquartile range 13–15 years). Participants were asked about five active sexting behaviours (sending sexts; making voice calls with sexual content; making video calls with sexual content; posting sexual content on the internet or social media networks; live-streaming video of sexual content on the internet or social media networks) with an amorous or sexual purpose, during the month prior to the survey, distinguishing between three possible addressees (boyfriend/girlfriend; someone known in person; someone known only on the internet), three media formats (text messages; images or videos; and audio messages), and three levels of sexual explicitness (nude; in underwear; and dressed but in a sexy pose). Both the proportion of students reporting to have partaken in all individual sexting behaviours and the number of times they did so in the study timeframe were higher when the addressee was reported as their romantic partner. Approximately half of the participants reported having engaged in sexting with a partner or with someone they knew in person, whereas a fifth sexted with someone they only knew online. Additionally, a third of adolescents posted some sort of sext, and a tenth presented themselves in a live-stream. The exchange of nude sexts was less prevalent than those depicting the subject in underwear or rather dressed and in a sexy pose. Girls posted significantly more images or videos both in underwear and dressed and in a sexy pose than boys, and girls also made more video calls with sexual content in response to a request from someone they knew in person than boys.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBehaviour and Information Technology
Early online date30 Nov 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 30 Nov 2022


  • A-SextS
  • Adolescents
  • prevalence rates
  • sexting


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