Sexting Facts Statistics

Online Dating

7 Sexting Facts & Stats That Everyone Online Should Know (2024)

Lexi Inks

Written by: Lexi Inks

Lexi Inks

Lexi joined the DatingAdvice team with several years of lifestyle journalism experience. She grew her writing prowess through reporting on the topic of sex and relationships, and she loves continuing to cover content in this niche while working toward becoming an AASECT Certified Sexuality Educator. You can find Lexi's writing in Refinery29, Cosmopolitan, Bustle, Well + Good, and Women's Health, among other publications.

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Edited by: Lillian Castro

Lillian Castro

Lillian Guevara-Castro brings more than 30 years of journalism experience to ensure DatingAdvice articles have been edited for overall clarity, accuracy, and reader engagement. She has worked at The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, The Gwinnett Daily News, and The Gainesville Sun covering lifestyle topics.

Reviewed by: Amber Brooks

Amber Brooks

Amber Brooks is a dating and relationship expert who has penned over 1,800 lifestyle articles in the last decade, and she still never tires of interviewing dating professionals and featuring actionable advice for singles. She has been quoted by the Washington Times, Cosmopolitan, The New York Post, and AskMen.

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Whether your relationship began online or in person, you likely shared some flirtation through messages. There is nothing wrong with swapping some spicy messages or photos, but it’s always a good idea to think before you sext. Sexting is a common practice in the modern dating world, and it serves as a way for partners to connect when they’re unable to be in the same place.

Privacy is often one of the most important factors for people concerned about online safety. Protecting yourself and your personal information is never a bad idea, but it’s easy to slip up and let it fall to the wayside when you meet a new person you’re excited about. Some users are out there hoping to take advantage of online daters, particularly young people looking to sext.

Sexting is useful for people in long-distance relationships or couples with busy schedules, but a few major safety considerations still apply. For starters, if you’re sexting a new person for the first time, you should make sure they’re someone you really trust with vulnerable messages or photos. Even your own partner could potentially breach your privacy — whether directly or indirectly — when you sext with each other. To get a better idea of the culture around sexting and what you can do to practice it safely, read on for TK sexting statistics that everyone should know. 

1. 88% of U.S. Adults Say They Have Sexted

Sexting is a nearly ubiquitous practice despite advancements in both technology and sex positivity. A study by Emily Stasko and Pamela A. Geller at Drexel University found that an incredible 88% of adults surveyed said they have sexted before, with 96% of those saying they “endorse” it. 

Sending a sext to a partner can be an exciting way to spice up your day-to-day communication and express your desires. If you’ve felt like your shared sex life has been stagnant lately, you can spark up a sexting conversation encouraging your partner to be naked when you get home tonight, or even send a risqué photo of yourself to really get their engine going. 

Blonde woman in bed in lingerie smiling at her cellphone
The majority of adults in the U.S. have sexted before.

Wanting to sext someone shouldn’t be embarrassing or make you feel uncomfortable — it should be an empowering and fun way to sexually connect. As long as you have their clear and enthusiastic consent, go for it.  

2. An Estimated 1 in 25 Americans Have Been Victimized by Revenge Porn

While you may make a conscious effort to remain safe online and respect the privacy of others, not everyone will always have your best interest in mind. Even a partner you would never question is capable of subjecting you to revenge porn. In fact, the Data and Society Research Institute reports that as many as 1 in 25 Americans report having either their private and sensitive photos leaked online, or received threats about it. 

Many reasons — including rejection or a tough breakup — may motivate someone to get revenge by leaking another person’s private photos or videos online. No matter the reason, it is a massive breach of someone’s trust and is never an OK choice. 

Sharing sexual or suggestive photos as a consenting adult is a valid choice, but it’s a good idea to do so with caution. Rather than assume the recipient will keep your private images hidden from others or delete them upon request, try to find ways to safeguard yourself against the risk of revenge porn. One example is to hide your face in photos, or not reveal personal details in your sexual messaging. 

3. 75% of Young People Said Nothing Bad Came of Sexting 

A 2020 Cybersurvey revealed that 78% of young people who had tried sexting before said they didn’t experience any negative consequences. Of course, sexting consequences may not be immediate. Although nothing bad may have happened in the short-term for those young people, it doesn’t mean that future consequences aren’t on the horizon. 

Young Black girl laying in bed on phone in the dark
Many young people sext without considering the possible consequences.

Minors having access to the internet and to smartphones is almost inevitable nowadays, but the level of supervision they have on them is up to their caregivers. When some young people are given the freedom to use social media platforms and unsupervised texting, it can result in age-inappropriate behaviors like sexting. 

Even if a young person has become sexually aware or active, they still face risks when engaging in sexting. The person they’re sending sexts to may have bad intentions, or have even breached consent by sharing the minor’s images or messages with friends.

4. Surprisingly, 40% of Teenage Girls Say They Sext as a Joke

According to research by DoSomething.org, many teenage girls have a somewhat flippant view of sexting. The website reports that 40% of young girls who have sexted before said they did so as a joke. While it’s good to have a sense of humor, sexting may not be the best laughing matter for a teen.

There are several factors that play into the risks teen girls face when sending nude photos or explicit text messages. One consideration that should be made — but often isn’t — is that teenage boys are also likely to not understand the consequences of exchanging these kinds of messages. 

Teen girl sitting back and smiling at her cellphone
Some young women and girls see sexting as more of a funny activity than a risky one.

DoSomething also says that 17% of sext recipients share the photos or texts with others, and 55% of them share the material with multiple people. Young people may not understand the grave consequences of doing this, including harming the senders themselves and their reputation — or even of being in violation of child pornography laws. 

5. About 15% of Teens Say They’ve Sent a Nude Photo to Someone They Met Online

If you’re a parent or guardian of a young child, it’s likely you are well aware of the ways the internet can harm young people. As kids grow older, they tend to become more involved in the digital world — which sometimes, unfortunately, opens them up to potential danger. Teens who choose to exchange explicit photos or videos are often taken advantage of in the process whether by adults portraying themselves as a minor online or from other young people.

In the previously mentioned survey, DoSomething.org found that 15% of teens who said they sent either nude or semi-nude photos of themselves did so to people they have never met in person. In 2021, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children received over 500,000 reports per week of the possible sexual exploitation of children. The Center reported that 1 in 9 youth experience online sexual exploitation. 

Young teen boy looking at cellphone on couch
Young people are significantly more susceptible to being exploited by online predators.

The growing issue of child predators online and the rise in stealth technology that keeps many of their identities secret means it’s more important than ever for caregivers of young people to supervise what their children are doing online. This involves open and honest conversations about the risks of meeting strangers online, and how to keep themselves safe from harm.

6. U.S. Law Enforcement Saw Over 7,000 Reports of Sextortion

A person sharing or posting private photos and videos of someone is heinous enough, but using it for personal gain is even worse. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, law enforcement agencies across the country received over 7,000 reports of sextortion cases involving minors in 2022. These cases affected over 3,000 victims, most of whom were young boys. 

Sextortion can occur in cases where an adult online predator falsely poses as a young person online to gain explicit photos or videos of a minor, or when they do so for financial gain. Either way, the extortion part occurs when the perpetrator threatens to post or share the sexual material if the child doesn’t comply with their demands. U.S. law enforcement reports that some of the cases that involve this cycle resulted in the victims committing suicide. 

Young boy looking at lit tablet in a dark room
According to statistics, young boys are the most frequent victims of sextortion schemes in the U.S.

Shame and fear are what keep young people in these situations from reporting their attackers, and what perpetuates the cycle of abuse. Parents must have open and honest conversations with the children and young people in your life about staying safe online. 

7. Revenge Porn Is Illegal in All But 4 States

Revenge porn is never okay and can deeply impact anyone involved in the behavior. According to the Cyberbullying Research Center, only four states in the U.S. do not currently have laws enforced against revenge porn — Ohio, South Carolina, Idaho, and Massachusetts. While these states don’t prosecute it at the moment, it’s likely that they will in the future. 

Consensually exchanging or receiving sexual photos or videos with another person can be an exciting way to connect between distance or spice up your relationship. But a breach of trust takes place when it comes to revealing those photos or videos outside of your partnership. Not only that, but most states now have laws that harshly punish those who post revenge porn — even if they don’t realize that they’re engaging in it. 

Learn the Facts So You Know How to Sext Safely

Sexting can be fun, exciting, and even an intimate practice. It can enhance your sexual connection and keep your shared spark alive when you sext with a consenting partner and you both trust each other to keep the images or messages safe and private. Sharing these intimate images can turn sour, however, when unethical or even illegal activity becomes involved. 

Minors are very susceptible to online predators, and you could even be at risk yourself if you choose to sext with someone you don’t fully trust or believe has your best interest and safety in mind.

Both of these situations can often lead to things like revenge porn, child pornography distribution, or sextortion schemes — all of which have grave consequences. Whether you’re swapping sexy videos with your long-distance love or simply having some fun with a dating app match, it’s important to stay aware of the risks, facts, and statistics about sexting.