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Sexting, a risky ritual of love life in the 21st century

Isabel Espanol

“The sending of sexually explicit and suggestive text messages, photos or videos sent or received using new technologies. ” This is the definition given by “sexting” – a contraction of the English terms “sex” and “texting” – Justine Bastin, clinical psychologist and author of a thesis on the subject (Sexting in young people. What realities?, Liège, 2020). By SMS, on Snapchat or Instagram … “Sextos” designate these words or images which come to tickle the eye and libido of the recipients, including many millennials.

Technology and sexuality

Few studies exist in France on this subject. In 2017, Michelle Drouin, a teacher-researcher at the University of Indiana (United States), conducted a study on sexting with students from her establishment (“Is sexting good for romantic relationships?” It depends “). 62% of its sample of students aged 19.7 years on average said they had sent or received a “Sexually explicit photo”. “This is part of the sexuality of the XXIe century “, recognizes the psychologist, specialist, in particular, of the relationships between technology and sexuality.

“The sextos are used less to rekindle the flame than to maintain the bond”, Margot, student in psychology

This practice is sometimes misunderstood by other generations. Elisabeth Mercier, professor in the sociology department of the University of Laval, author of an article on the sharing of intimate images among young people, underlines that, at all times, the emergence of new sexual practices has caused a phenomenon of “Moral panic”. “Before the sexting, there were the naughty Polaroids, before again, the erotic correspondenceIn short, in words or images, expressing one's sexual desires to others is fundamentally nothing revolutionary.

“We can embellish”

Students, as well as some researchers, point out the positive aspects. “Sexting can help foster a long-distance relationship”, recognizes Michelle Drouin. Margot (the first names have been changed), a 20-year-old undergraduate student in psychology, says: “I am in the Rhône, my boyfriend in the Loiret, we only meet once or twice a month. Sexting is used less to rekindle the flame than to maintain the bond “, explains the young woman. “Sexting can strengthen the capacity to be intimate”, confirms psychologist Justine Bastin.

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