Are Youth Sexting Rates Still on the Rise? A Meta-analytic Update

Camille Mori, Julianna Park, Jeff R. Temple, Sheri Madigan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


A meta-analysis of 39 studies (110,380 participants) from 2009 to 2015 indicated that youth sexting increased over time. To inform current practice and policy initiatives, this meta-analytic update of studies since 2016 examined if rates of youth sexting have continued to rise and whether youth sexting differs by age, sex, sexting methods, and geographical location. Electronic searches were conducted in March 2020 in Embase, PsycINFO, MEDLINE, and Web of Science, yielding 1,101 nonduplicate records. Studies were included if they provided prevalence of youth sexting and data collection occurred ≥2016. Literature review and data extraction were conducted by following established PRISMA guidelines. All relevant data were extracted by two independent reviewers. To calculate mean prevalence rates, random-effects meta-analyses were conducted. Twenty-eight studies (N = 48,024) met inclusion criteria. The estimated pooled prevalence rates were as follows: (1) sending (19.3%), (2) receiving (34.8%), and (3) forwarding sexts without consent (14.5%). These prevalence rates are statistically similar to studies with data collected before 2016. In recent studies, females receive sexts at a higher rate than males, older youth are more likely to send sexts, and younger and older adolescents receive sexts at similar rates. Youth sexting rates have likely plateaued. Sexting education initiatives should begin early and encourage safe, ethical, and respectful online behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)531-539
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2022


  • Adolescence
  • Meta-analysis
  • Sexting
  • Sexuality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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