What Is Sexting?

What Is Sexting? Meaning & How To Sext Safely

What is sexting? Well, they don't exactly teach this kind of stuff in high school, but most young people have a good idea of what sexting involves. But even the most experienced sexters out there might not be familiar with all of the hazards and all of the golden rules to follow. That's why it's a good idea to brush up on your sexting game once in a while.

Consider this article your formal sext education. We're going to talk about the multiple types of sexting, the best sexting tips and a short guide on how to stay safe navigating this virtual world. No matter your experience levels, your sexuality or your relationship status, we're asking all the important questions, starting with: what is sexting, anyway?

The Definition of Sexting

We've all heard the word 'sexting' before, but what does it actually mean? Does it have a strict definition or is it a fluid, ever-changing term? Well, the Oxford Dictionary describes sexting as 'the action or practice of sending sexually explicit messages or images via mobile phone. This term was coined in 2011, and it pretty much remains the same meaning today.

Of course, sexting has diversified a little over the years. What was once only done through SMS on mobile phones is now possible through any platform that offers virtual interaction. Today, sexting can be done through chat rooms, dating apps, messaging services, social networking platforms and much more.

To take things a step further, there are three 'types' of sexting. The platform through which these sexual messages are exchanged is rarely considered, instead focussing more on the actual content which has been swapped. Sext messages can take the following forms:

Text Message Sexting

This is the most common form of virtual sexual activity. Sexting via text messages is fairly self-explanatory, with two people exchanging sexually explicit messages back and forth for the purposes of sexual gratification. Text-based sexting is often used in conjunction with the other types on this list.

Picture Message Sexting

Exchanging sexual and nude images is a cornerstone of sexting culture. Usually, two chat partners will exchange sexual images alongside text messages for maximum immersion in their virtual fantasies. This form is often considered the riskiest form of sexting, especially amongst young adults who have a tendency to share nude images with others.

Audio Message & Voice Clip Sexting

The least common form of sexual message, but still used by millions of strangers and intimate partners the world over. Audio sexting involves exchanging recorded voice messages with another person. Most messaging apps offer voice recording functions as standard today. Like pictures, audio sexting comes with the same risks.

How Common is Sexting?

Sexting is considered relatively common practice amongst teens and young adult the world over. Studies have shown that as many as 60% of teen boys are engaging in sexting on a regular basis, while the number hovers at around 40% for teen girls. With older teens, these numbers increase to around 75% and 55% respectively.

Outside of young people and high school students, sexting is still quite prevalent. Around 78% of people aged 24-60 said they'd engaged in sexting at some point in the past five years. The most common sexting age group was 24-39 year olds; with around 85% of them saying that sexting was a regular activity in their everyday lives.

Your Sexting Guide

Keep these 8 tips in mind when crafting and sending your sexual messages. They'll make for a hotter all-round sexting experience as well as ensuring both you and your partner get the most out of your session.

Time It Right

In today's world, we've our cell phones in our hands every second of the day. First thing in the morning, at our desks, on the toilet. If your partner is anything like us, they'll probably have their mobile device nearby the moment you send your first sexy message. And sometimes, that can be a problem, especially if they're not in the right environment to engage in cyber-sexual activity.

That means you have to time your sending for optimal performance. If you know your partner is going to be in a meeting or picking the kids up from school, the last thing they want is to indulge your sexual desires right there and then. You want to time your photos and videos so they can make the most of them immediately. After all, your partner won't want to keep you waiting. If you don't live together, keep your sexting to early-late evening times.

Slow Burn

Internet porn has conditioned young adults to believe that sex is an explosive act that rarely lasts more than the length of an average Pornhub video (which is actually 11 minutes). But of course, anyone who's sexually active on a regular basis knows that sex can often go for a while - even up to the hour mark in some cases. That's why sexting sessions should follow suit.

Instead of jumping right in with 'my dick is hard, what are you going to do with it?', try gradually building up the intensity instead. Tell your partner to imagine lying down on the bed while you massage her back, then talk about your hands slip a little lower until you're pleasuring her downstairs. No one, even young adults, want to jump right into the action straight away.

Stay Comfortable

Researchers found that around 38% of young adults had been pressured into sext interactions they weren't fully comfortable with. Most people naturally want to address their partner's sexual desires, even if it's not something they're fully on board with themselves. Such actions might include BDSM play, extreme fetish and taboo acts.

If your sext partner takes the conversation to levels you're not comfortable with, then it's perfectly fine to voice your concerns. If your partner refuses, then this is an act of consent violation. In most cases, your partner should understand your feelings and react accordingly. If they don't, it might be a good time to re-address your needs in the relationship.

Discretion, Always

Even if you're in a long term relationship, you should still exercise discretion when possible. For example, your partner might be at work or visiting family members, and sending them raunchy messages at such inappropriate times can cause embarassment and awkwardness, especially if someone catches a glance at their phone screen.

A good idea is to press enter a few times before sending a message. Leave two or three lines and then attach your explicit photos underneath. This ensures that no NSFW media will show up on their home screen and won't cause their nosy parents to ask questions.

Incorporate Visuals

Words can only take you so far. If you want to take your sexting relationship to the next level, you need to throw some sexually explicit content in there too. Naughty photos and videos are naturally the perfect complement to some raunchy messages, and really help make the whole fantasy more immersive.

It's often a good idea to have a library of pics and videos at your disposal, especially if you're sexting a new partner. After all, you don't want to derail the momentum by snapping pics right there and then, not to mention you won't have time to get the lighting and the angles right.

Know Your Emoji Code

Photos, videos, memes, GIFs - are there any other types of media you can throw into the sexting mix? Yes, actually. Emojis. Whether you love them or hate them, the Internet has made emojis a part of the cultural zeitgeist. Kids are watching movies about them. Your parents are sending them. We can't deny the impact they've had.

And yes, you should use emojis when sexting too, especially because they can portray your intentions without the need for words. Dick? Eggplant emoji. Vagina? Taco emoji. Feeling naughty? Devil face. Want to go down on her until she orgasms? Mouth, taco and waterfall emoji. The opportunities for creativity are endless.

Creative Language

And speaking of getting creative, you should know that sexting is something of a creative effort in itself. For that reason, you should try your best to use descriptive language that evokes imagery and sensory responses rather than standard stuff we've all heard a million times before.

Try and keep it dirty without being clinical. For example, don't use something like 'phallus' to describe your penis when dick works just fine. Likewise, we're all adults here, so don't use childish terms to describe things either. If you tell your partner that you want to 'munch her beaver' then you can kiss any further sext sessions goodbye.

Ask Questions

Communication is everything, but the more you talk, the less you learn. When you engage in a sext session, you have a duty to indulge their sexual needs providing neither of you go beyond your respective boundaries. And the best way to know what your partner wants is to listen to them.

Ask them about their most depraved fantasies. Talk about past sexual behavior. What's their hottest sex experience? What they have always wanted to try but never summoned the courage? The less you talk, the more you'll find out.

Sexting Risks

For young people, sexting comes with a number of risks. This doesn't mean that you shouldn't enjoy a sext session on occasion - far from it. But it's vital for people to understand the risks in order to avoid them down the line. Here are the most common hazards of sexting:


Once you send a sexual image to another person, there's a chance it could be out there forever. Once something is out of your hands, you have no control of it. If your photos are then leaked online, there's a chance they could be spread around, meaning permanent deletion of them would be nigh on impossible.

Mental Health

Mental health issues are one of the most common symptoms of sexting-based issues. The leak of a single nude photo is all it could take for onset anxiety to rear its head, which can then greatly affect a person's day to day life. Anxiety and other mental health problems have fast risen in the digital age and so-called 'revenge porn' has been the root of a lot of it.


In the wrong hands, your nude photos can be someone else's blackmail ammunition. There have been countless instances of dishonest parties receiving explicit pictures and using them to manipulate the other person for their own gain. Sexual photos can be used to extort money, sexual encounters and used for the threat of negative exposure.

Physical Safety

Revealing your personal information to a texting partner can sometimes put you in physical danger, as many high school students have found out. According to the Washington Post, victims of photo leaks are often targets for abuse amongst their school peers. The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy found that females were more victimized than males in this regard.

Staying Safe When Sexting

If you know how to keep yourself safe whilst navigating the sexting world, you'll have a much better time in the long run. Safety is the most important component of any sexual adventure, so we're going to talk a little about security.

Strive For Anonymity

If one of your nude photos gets leaked, your best friend should be able to look at the photo and still not recognize that it's you. That's the goal. Your photos should be plain and nondescript so that you can deny that it's you in the case of mass-sharing. In other words, keep yourself anonymous, and if your sending partner asks you for more, just say no.

This means obscuring any features that could confirm your real identity. Face, clothing, tattoos, piercings, birth marks, scars, unique hair colors. A good idea is to either not snap any identifiable features at all or blur them out with editing tools. Another common approach in the sexting world is to cover these features with filters or emojis.

Avoid Personal Info

Your cell phone is a goldmine of information about yourself - to levels you might not even realize. These days, a digital device can track your whereabouts, your interests, and the locations your photos were taken. When you pass these photos onto other people, they too will be privy to this personal information.

When sexting - especially with someone new - you should never give out your full name, address or any identifying details about yourself. Likewise, ensure that the photos and videos you take do not reveal anything that could help them discern your location or address. Some of this information can be hidden in the meta data of your photos, too.

Get Consent

Consensual sexting is paramount to healthy sexual relationships. There are strict laws against nonconsensual pornography in today's world, and sexting without pre-approval from your partner can net you a sex-based criminal charge. Put simply, it can make you a registered sex offender, so you can kiss goodbye to any future job opportunities.

One of the issues here is that it's sometimes difficult to know what constitutes consent. For example, no one asks their romantic partner "do you want to sext?" Instead, the idea comes through suggestive language. However, if your texting partner puts up any resistance to your proposal, then abandon the idea. Never push sexting on someone who isn't willing.

Don't Catfish!

Using someone else's pictures or videos for texting purposes is illegal in a lot of countries of American states. While impersonation isn't necessarily illegal, you may unknowingly be using illegal images if you've stolen images off a sketchy adult site. For example, you may steal images of underage girls, which can result in child pornography charges.

As well as potential criminal offenses, it's also morally wrong to impersonate someone else to purposely mislead. For these reasons and many more, never resort to catfishing no matter what the situation. Furthermore, if you find someone else using stolen photos for the purposes of sexting, report them to the relevant authorities.