Sharing sexts

There is little evidence that sending sexts is by itself a risky act: for example, one study done with American university students found that many reported positive experiences. [1]

Where harm is most likely to occur is when sexts are shared or forwarded. While a sext that is only ever seen by the original recipient is unlikely to cause any harm, the risks caused by sexts that are seen by others are obvious.

MediaSmarts’ research has found that roughly a third of youth are responsible for nearly all of the sharing behaviours, which includes sharing sexts (that they asked for, that they didn’t ask for, or those shared with them by someone other than the original sender), in person, by forwarding them to individuals, or by posting them to public spaces such as “revenge porn” sites. [2]

So why do almost half (46%) of youth who receive sexts decide to share them, and why do they – and, in many cases, their peers who may not share sexts themselves but nevertheless choose to blame the victim for having sent it in the first place – see themselves as doing nothing wrong?

[1] Culp-Ressler, Tara. “Study Finds that Sexting Doesn’t Actually Ruin Students’ Lives.” ThinkProgress, September 10, 2013. <>
[2] Johnson, M., Mishna, F., Okumu, M., Daciuk, J. Non-Consensual Sharing of Sexts: Behaviours and Attitudes of Canadian Youth, Ottawa: MediaSmarts, 2018. <>