Sexting categories

Arta Dodaj, Kristina Sesar


Sexting has recently become a relatively widespread and devastating problem among youth, and its complex nature and consequences are increasingly arousing the interest of current scientific and professional practice. Although researchers have made substantial efforts to provide the definition of the sexting there is no general consensus among them on the meaning of the sexting. In this review, we proposed a simple theoretical framework of sexting that seeks to refine the operationalization of sexting from previous research. Following a systematic review of sexting research from Sesar, Dodaj and Šimić (2018) which postulated a theoretical model of sexting, as well as previous researchers, we suggest that sexting behaviour has four forms: relational sexting, reactive sexting, forced sexting and violent sexting. We define this operationalization of sexting by focusing on the motivation for sexting and underlying sexting elements (such as the content of sexts etc.).  This paper describes all forms of sexting behaviour proposed and closes by encouraging future researchers to investigate our understanding of sexting behaviour.


Sexting; Motivation for sexting; Elements of sexting; Typology.

Full Text:



Adetoal, A., & Olanrewaju, M. K. (2015). Personological factors and sexting behaviour among in-school adolescents: Implications for counselling psychology. International Journal of Educational Studies, 12, 15-28.

Ahn, H., Garandeau, C. F., & Rodkin, P. C. (2010). Effects of classroom embeddedness and density on the social status of aggressive and victimized children. Journal of Early Adolescence. 30(1), 76-101.

Albury, K., & Crawford, K. (2012). Sexting, consent and young people’s ethics: Beyond Megan’s story. Continuum: Journal of Media and Cultural Studies, 26(3), 463-473.

Alonso, C., & Romero, E. (2019). Sexting behaviours in adolescents: Personality predictors and psychosocial outcomes in a one-year follow-up. Annals of Psychology, 35(2), 214-224.

Barrense-Dias, Y., Berchtold, A., Surís, J. C., & Akre, C. (2017). Sexting and the definition issue. Journal of Adolescent Health, 61(5), 544-554.

Beckmeyer, J. J, Herbenick, D., Fu, T. C., Dodge, B., Reece, M., & Fortenberry, D. (2019). Characteristics of adolescent sexting: Results from the 2015 National survey of sexual health and behavior. Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, 45(8), 1-33.

Bond, E. (2011). The Mobile Phone = bike shed? Children, sex and mobile phones. New Media and Society, 13(4), 587-604.

Calvert, C. (2009, May 10). Sex, cell phones, privacy, and the first amendment: When children become child pornographers and the Lolita effect undermines the law. CommLaw Conspectus: Journal of Communications Law and Policy, 18,1-66.

Calvert, C. (2013). Revenge porn and freedom of expression: legislative pushback to an online weapon of emotional and reputational destruction. Fordham Intellectual Property, Media & Entertainment Law Journal, 24(2), 673-702.

Chalfen, R. (2009). 'It's only a picture': Sexting, 'smutty' snapshots and felony charges. Visual Studies, 24(3), 258-268.

Closson, L. M. (2009). Status and gender differences in early adolescents' descriptions of popularity. Social Development, 18(2), 412-426.

Cohen, L. E, & Felson, M. (1979). Social change and crime rate trends: A routine activity approach. American Sociological Review, 44(4), 588-608.

Cohen, L. E., Kluegel, J. R., & Land, K. C. (1981). Social inequality and predatory criminal victimization: an exposition and test of a formal theory. American Sociological Review, 46(5), 505-524.

Cooper, K., Quayle, E., Jonsson, L., & Svedin, C. G. (2016). Adolescents and self-taken sexual images: A review of the literature. Computers in Human Behavior, 55, 706-716.

Dake, J. A., Price, J. H., Maziarz, L., & Ward, B. (2012). Prevalence and correlates of sexting behavior in adolescents.American Journal of Sexuality Education, 7(1), 1-15.

Delevi, R., & Weisskirch, R. S. (2013). Personality factors as predictors of sexting. Computers in Human Behaviour, 29(6), 2589-2594.

Dir, A. L. (2012). Understanding sexting behaviors, sexting expectancies, and the role of impulsivity in sexting behaviors. (Master's thesis, Purdue University, Indiana, USA).

Dir, A. L., Coskunpinar, A., Steiner, J. L, & Cyders, M. A. (2013a ). Understanding differences in sexting behaviours across gender, relationship status, and sexual identity, and the role of expectancies in sexting.Cyberpsychology, Behaviour and Social Networking, 16(8), 568-574.

Dir, A. L., Cyders, M. A., & Coskunpinar, A. (2013b). From the bar to the bed via mobile phone: A first test of the role of problematic alcohol use, sexting, and impulsivity-related traits in sexual hookups. Computers in Human Behavior, 29(4), 1664-1670.

Döring, N. (2012). Erotischer otoaustausch unter Jugendlichen: Verbreitung, Fuktionen und Folgen des Sexting. Zeitschrift für Sexualforschung, 25, 4-25.

Döring, N. (2014). Consensual sexting among adolescents: Risk prevention through abstinence education or safer sexting? Cyberpsychology: Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace, 8(1), 1-14.

Drouin, M., & Tobin, E. (2014). Unwanted but consensual sexting among young adults. Relations with attachment and sexual motivations. Computers in Human Behavior, 31, 412-418.

Drouin, M., Vogel, K. N., Surbey, A., & Stills, J. R. (2013). Let’s talk about sexting, baby: Computer-mediated sexual behaviors among young adults. Computers in Human Behavior, 29(5), 25-30.

Englander, E. (2012). Low risk associated with most teenage sexting: A study of 617 18-year-olds. MARC Research Reports.

Englander, E., & McCoy, M. (2018). Sexting—Prevalence, age, sex, and outcomes. JAMA Pediatrics, 172(4), 317-318.

Ferguson, C. J. (2011). Sexting behaviors among young Hispanic women: Incidence and association with other high-risk sexual behaviors. Psychiatric Quartely, 82(3), 239-243.

Gámez-Guadix, M., Santisteban, P., & Resett, S. (2017). Sexting among Spanish adolescents: Prevalence and personality profiles. Psicothema, 29(1), 29-34. Doi:

Gottfredson, M. R., & Hirschi, T. (1990). A General theory of crime. Stanford University Press.

Grant, M. J., & Bootht, A. (2009). A typology of reviews: An analysis of 14 review types and associated methodologies. Health Information & Libraries Journal, 26(2), 91-108. Doi:

Harris, C. (2017). A multiple goals theoretical approach to sexting: Message content and scale development. Theses and Dissertations – Communication, 60. Doi:

Hasinoff, A. A. (2013). Sexting as media production: Rethinking social media and sexuality. New Media and Society, 15(4), 1-17. Doi:

Henderson, L., & Morgan, E. (2011, May 5). Sexting and sexual relationships among teens and young adults. McNair Scholars Research Journal, 7, 9.

Hindelang, M. J., Gottfredson, M. R., & Garofalo, J. (1978). Victims of personal crime: An empirical foundation for a theory of personal victimization. Ballinger Press.

Hudson, H. K. (2011). Factors affecting sexting behaviors among selected undergraduate students. (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Carbondale, Illinois, USA.

Hudson, H. K., Fetro, J. V., & Ogletree, R. (2014). Behavioral indicators and behaviors related to sexting among undergraduate students. American Journal of Health Education, 45(3), 183-195.

Klettke, B., Hallford, D., & Mellor, D. (2014). Sexting prevalence and correlates: A systematic literature review. Clinical Psychology Review, 34(1), 44-53.

Kopecký, K. (2011). Sexting among Czech pre-adolescents and adolescents. New Educational Review, 28(2), 39-48.

Kopecký, K. (2014). Cyberbullying and other risks of internet communication focused on university students. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 112, 260-269. m

LaFontana, K. M., & Cillessen, A. H. N. (2002). Children's perceptions of popular and unpopular peers: A multimethod assessment. Developmental Psychology, 38(5), 635-647.

Lenhart, A. (2009). Teens and sexting, How and why minor teens are sending sexually suggestive nude or nearly nude images via text messaging. Pew Internet and American Life Project Research.

Lippman, J. R., & Campbell, S. W., (2014). Damned if you do, damned if you don't…If you're a girl: Relational and normative contexts of adolescent sexting in the United States. Journal of Children and Media, 8(4), 371-386.

Moher, D., Liberati, A., Tetzlaff, J., Altman, D.G., & The PRISMA Group (2009). Preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analyses: The PRISMA Statement. PLoS Med, 6(7), e1000097.

Ngo, F., Jaishankar, K., & Agustina, J. R. (2017). Sexting: Current research gaps and legislative issues. International Journal of Cyber Criminology, 11(2), 161-168.

Ploharz, S. (2017). An evolutionary based examination of sexting behavior among college students. (Master's thesis, Fort Hays State University, Kansas, USA). https://

Renfrow, D. G., & Rollo, E. A. (2014). Sexting on campus: Minimizing perceived risks and neutralizing behaviours. Deviant Behaviour, 35(11), 903-920.

Reyns, B. W., Henson, B., & Fisher, B. S. (2014). Digital deviance: Low self-control and opportunity as explanations of sexting among college students. Sociological Spectrum, 34(3), 273-292.

Ringrose, J., Gill, R., Livingstone, S., & Harvey, L. (2012). A qualitative study of children, young people and ‘sexting’: A report prepared for the NSPCC. National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children Report.

Sesar, K., Dodaj, A., & Šimić, N. (2019). Motivational determinants of sexting: Towards a model integrating the research. Psychological Topics, 28(3), 461-482.

Temple, J. R., & Choi, H. (2014). Longitudinal association between teen sexting and sexual behavior. Pediatrics, 134(5), 1287-1292. Doi:

Temple, J. R., Le, V. D., van den Berg, P., Ling, Y., Paul, J. A., & Temple, B. W. (2014). Brief report: Teen sexting and psychosocial health. Journal of Adolescence, 37(1), 33-36.

Vanden Abeele, M., Roe, K., & Eggermont, S. (2012). An exploration of adolescents' sexual contact and conduct risks through mobile phone use. Communications: European Journal of Communication, 37(1), 55-77.

Van Ouytsel, J., Van Gool, E., Ponnet, K., & Walrave, M. (2014). Brief report: The association between adolescents’ characteristics and engagement in sexting. Journal of Adolescence, 37(8), 1387-1391.

Van Ouytsel, J., Ponneta K., Walrave, M., & d'Haenens, L. (2016). Adolescent sexting from a social learning perspective. Telematics & Informatics, 34(1), 287-298.

Walgrave, M., Heirman.W., & Hallam, L. (2013). Under pressure to sext? Applying the theory of planned behaviour to adolescent sexting. Behaviour and Information Technology, 33(1), 85-97.

Walker, S., Sanci, L., & Temple-Smith, M. (2013). Sexting: Young women’s and men’s views on its nature and origins. Journal of Adolescent Health, 52(6), 697-701.

Weisskirch, R. S., & Delevi, R. (2011). ‘Sexting’ and adult romantic attachment. Computers in Human Behaviour, 27(5), 1697-1701.

Wolak, J., & Finkelhor, D. (2011). Sexting: A typology. Crimes against Children Research Center.

Wolak, J., Finkelhor, D., & Mitchell, K. J. (2012). How often are teens arrested for sexting? Data from a national sample of police cases. Pediatrics, 129(1), 4-12.



  • There are currently no refbacks.