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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?

Bing: How to keep your online life private

More from The Heart Beat: 

Poll: Working-class women who cheat want a sugar daddy
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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)

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