The Sunday Times Magazine: Is sexting really such a bad thing?


Considering I’m a writer, I’ve always been awful at sexting. My purple prose is less Anaïs Nin, more Morrissey up for the Bad Sex in Fiction award. I just can’t take it seriously. I resort to puns or Benny Hill come-ons. Or irony: “Wanna Netflix and chill?”

As a fumbling technophobe, I’ve always got AutoCorrect undermining my romantic overtures; telling my boyfriend he’s the world’s greatest “duck”. How badly this affects my love life is hard to measure… probably more than I’d hope.

Sexting is no novelty. Everyone’s at it. A recent survey of almost 1,000 people, aged 18 to 82, found that 88% of respondents had engaged in some form of keyboard seduction. That’s 8 out of 9 of us admitting to sexting.

Sexting, for the 1 in 9 who remain uninitiated, means sending any sexually suggestive or explicit content via text message on your phone: be it graphic literature or a picture of your bits. And like all things invented by young people to have fun, it has a bad reputation. It’s been blamed for everything from promiscuity and oversexualisation to promoting bad spelling with txt spk. It’s portrayed as a gateway technology that leads to other risky behaviour, such as casual sex, drug-taking and getting chlamydia. However, I suspect the dangers of sexting have been vastly exaggerated.

If anything, sexting must be stunting our sex lives, because now we spend more time on our phones than getting laid. This is probably why the incidence of teenage pregnancies is decreasing — you can’t get knocked up by text message.

Sexting can allow us to explore fantasies we don’t want to try in real life and allow us to rekindle relationships without risk

Sexting, like all technology, is morally inert. It doesn’t incite behaviour; it enables the behaviour we want to act out. So it’s pointless telling people not to use it. You’re better showing them positive ways it can be adopted. For example, sex-education classes might better serve students if, instead of telling them not to sext, they taught them how to do it. After all, the best relationships are based on communication. And sexting is brilliant because it’s so revealing.



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