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Anthony Weiner scandal 2.0: Are we a 'sexting nation'?

Nearly a fifth of adults in the U.S. say they use their smartphone for sexting — sharing explicit photos or text messages with others. Why do we do it?

By Charyn Pfeuffer - MSN Living Editor Jul 26, 2013 6:42PM

Everybody loves a good political sex scandal. Take Anthony Weiner’s most recent moral hiccup with Sydney Leathers, the 23-year-old who engaged in online sex chat with the married New York City mayoral candidate.

Photo: Anthony Weiner scandal 2.0: Are we a ‘sexting nation?’

“Anthony Weiner may be in the headlines today, but many American adults are using social networking to spice up their sex lives,” writes CNN.com columnist Roxanne Jones, citing a Harris Interactive poll in which nearly one in five adults said they had shared explicit photos or text messages with others.

MSN Living: The science of adult sexting: Is it primal?

“Sexting,” or the sending of explicit text messages, tweets and the like, is on the rise among both married and single adults. Eighteen- to 34-year-old men are the biggest sexters (32 percent), but even baby boomers (10 percent) and parents with kids under the age of 18 (30 percent) are getting in on the racy smartphone action.

Why do people sext, especially when an NSFW (not suitable for work) message can result in major consequences? The possibilities for sexting missteps are obvious, including messages going to the wrong recipient, nude photos surfacing on a lost smartphone or an innocent flirtation turning into full-on infidelity.

So why do people send suggestive texts?

Perhaps it’s a self-esteem issue, a way to create a false sense of intimacy. Or maybe it’s something more primal, the notion that sending a text that gets the recipient hot and bothered creates power.  That’s what Bethany Marshall, a marriage and family therapist in Beverly Hills, Calif., believes.

“Adults, particularly those in positions of power like politicians, sext because they want even more power,” Marshall told ABC News in 2011.  “They want reassurance, they want the sexual stimulation, they want to think of themselves as sexually desirable.”

MSN Living: 10 fun, frisky ways to spice up your relationship

But the risk of scandal and ridicule doesn’t seem to deter people like Weiner, a serial offender. You’d think he’d learn his lesson after he accidentally tweeted a crotch shot to his (then) 45,000 followers in 2011. Even a nom de plume, Carlos Danger, couldn’t conceal his indiscretion in this latest lewd stint.

Tell us: Why do you think we use mobile phone messaging  or sexting  for both intimacy and infidelity in a digital age?

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Photo: New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner in New York on July 24. Weiner acknowledged sending explicit texts to a woman as recently as last summer, more than a year after sexting revelations destroyed his congressional career. (Richard Drew/AP)

Aug 2, 2013 7:00AM

We live in such a repressed society in the USA. Why can't we all just quit worrying what the other guy is doing. Is it really any of our business? Are there any other issues that are more important? Why can't we be mature adults like the people I currently live around over here in Europe?


Will our society ever relax its puritan ideas? Live and let live. Let's work on getting some of our freedom back.

Aug 2, 2013 6:47AM
Here's a general rule to follow--Do not send a text or take a photo on your smartphone that you don't want pinned up at the water cooler at work for everyone to see, or the pastor of your church, or your mother, or your children, or your children's friends. If you can't say it or do it in front of any of them, don't do it. Because these things end up getting seen by the very people you never want to show it to.
Aug 2, 2013 3:11AM
Well, it is one thing when you do it with people you know but it takes an idiot to do it with people you don't now.  That is especially so if you hold public office like Anthony Weiner.  Seeing a man make such a public spectacle of himself is in no way indicative of an intelligent responsible person.  After reading a lot of the responses, it seems many of you think it is just harmless fun.  Well then, when your pictures or your sex talk ends up where you don't want it, like on your job, then see if you still think it is harmless fun.  I think it take an idiot to open yourself up to that kind of exposure. 
Aug 2, 2013 2:36AM
Sexting is great fun! Just make sure you're not married. Or if you are, make it an open marraige. Then you can share your fun & naughty sexts with your partner. That's what I do.
Aug 2, 2013 2:23AM
Why is it called sexting anyway? There is really only one way to have sex and that is skin on skin. Everything else is nothing more than masturbation. And that's not sex.
The marriage and family therapist is NOT an expert, and no study has been done. So. What she has to say is a bunch of garbage.

I'll give my opinion, which carries as much weight as hers:

If 20% of adults sext, and they are equal amount men and women, then there are a lot of people flirting with each other and letting each other know they are interested in having sex (for the first time, or for the many'th time) using the means of communication available. Before this, there were these things called LANDLINE PHONES that people used. Some used email. Others used this thing called TALKING or WHISPERING IN THE EAR.

Now, let's all put behind us the talking heads trying to concentrate on a particular person in the news, I'm sure that he is only one of ... how many? Um, oh right, one of 50 million that 'sext' in the United States (regularly).
Aug 2, 2013 12:02AM
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