Sexting or sending sexually explicit emails and messages could be seen as normal behavior for young adults of the internet generation, according to a new study by American researchers.
University of Michigan researchers studied the sexting behaviour of 3,447 men and women aged 18-24 and found sexting very common and not linked to sexually risky behaviours or psychological problems.
According to the study's co-principal investigator Jose Bauermeister, an assistant professor at the UM School of Public Health, the result contradicts the public perception of sexting, which is portrayed as unsavoury, deviant or even criminal behaviour, CBS Detroit reported.
Most negative stories involved sexting among pre-teens and teenagers. The UM study group was considerably older, said study co-author Debbie Gordon-Messer.
"For younger age groups, legality is an issue," the Daily Telegraph quoted Gordon-Messer as saying.
"They are also in a very different place in their sexual development," she said.
This is the first known study to connect sexting with a behavioural outcome, Bauermeister said.
Previous studies on sexting focus on demographic - who is doing the sexting, not how sexting impacts the health of the participants.
Nearly half of the study respondents participated in sexting. Most who reported receiving "sexts" said they also sent them, which the study stated suggested that sexting was reciprocal and likely to happen between romantic partners.
The study will be published in the Journal of Adolescent Health.