Smartphones and other mobile devices are meant to simplify the lives of their users. Included in this simplification is the ability to sext, or send provocative text message, and a survey by McAfee released on Feb. 4 titled “Love, Relationships and Technology” exposed just how common this phenomenon is.
The survey is the second year that McAfee has taken a look consumer sharing and storage via mobile phones. More specifically, intimate data storage and sharing was examined. The study revealed several trends in the overall prevalence of sexting.
Of the 98 percent of respondents that used their phones for capturing photos, 54 percent were likely to send or receive explicit photos. The 18 to 24 age demographic represented the largest percentage overall. From that demographic, men were more likely than women to send or receive intimate photos. Of the photos and sexts sent, 50 percent of adults saved the content received.
Photos were shared most often between significant others, though 16 percent of respondents did admit to having sent explicit content to complete strangers.
The survey also took stock of security measures taken by consumers, such as passwords. Twenty seven percent of respondents admitted to neglecting to use of a passcode for their device. Another 38 percetn share their passcode with their significant other.
This type of behavior is viewed as risky by some when relationships end. In spite, bitter exes have been known to share what would have once been private media, with the world.
The McAfee survey isn’t the first to try to get a handle on how prevalent sexting has become. A 2008 survey of 1280 teens and young adults by Cosmogirl.com found that 20 percent of teens and 33 percent of young adults have participated in sexting activity. More specifically, those numbers corresponded with those who had sent nude or semi-nude photos electronically.
Currently, there are a whole host of apps that cater to text and picture based interactions. Apps such as Snapchat and Kik were created as a means to share messages without having to utilize phone based messaging services.
Snapchat caters more to those who wish to share pictures and places temporarily, with a timer on said pictures counting down to when they disappear. But with many smartphones allowing users to take screenshots, snaps never truly disappear. Even with such loopholes, Snapchat has become a very popular app, a favorite for some who participate in sexting activity.
Kik, on the other hand, focused on text messaging. Some sexters flock to the app because of the anonymity that it provides. Users are not required to provide any personally identifiable information and it doesn’t connect to any other social networks of its own design, instead creating a unique profile and username.
Sexting in and of itself is a result of technological advances enhancing actions that have existed for decades. Sexual content has been sent through all forms of media sharing. The only big difference is the speed and ease with which the behavior is facilitated.
By Rashad McDowell