The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an increase in ‘sexting’, especially among young people

According to a study led by UIC Barcelona, published in the international journal Environmental Research and Public Health, ‘sexting’ increased during the lockdown by 2% among girls and 10% among boys. The study is the result of the SEXVICT project, funded by the MAPFRE Foundation.

The article, entitled “Exploring Sexting and Online Sexual Victimization during the COVID-19 Pandemic Lockdown”, is the first article published from the project and has been carried out by two researchers from the UIC Barcelona Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Aina M. Gassó and Esperanza L. Gómez-Durán, in collaboration with Katrin Mueller-Johnson (Oxford University) and José R. Agustina (Abad Oliba CEU University).

As the study’s authors explain, based on a definition by Janis Wolak and David Finkelhor, professors at the University of New Hampshire, ‘sexting’ is “the act of sending, receiving and/or forwarding sexually explicit photos or videos via electronic devices or social networks”. The authors say that, during the lockdown, the practice of ‘sexting’ among young adults increased by 4%, that is, from 23% to 27%. 

On the other hand, the research team also refers to online sexual victimisation, stating that 17% of young people between the ages of 18 and 25 have experienced it: 19% of girls and 11% of boys.

The study was approved by the UIC Barcelona Ethics Committee, and was conducted using data collected through an online survey. Participants took part voluntarily and anonymously, to encourage honesty, through social networks such as Twitter, LinkedIn, WhatsApp and Instagram, as well as through mailing lists. 

In addition, they received information on community resources that they could access in case of distress and to be able to receive victim support.

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