Is it possible to be addicted to sexting?


The Washington Post’s Caitlin Dewey shares some safe-sexting tips on the latest Too Embarrassed to Ask.

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Sexting: It’s not just something Anthony Weiner does. Nearly 70 percent of college students have sent a sext, as have 23 percent of teens with “dating experience,” ages 13 to 17.

But is that necessarily cause for concern? On the latest Too Embarrassed to Ask, Washington Post columnist Caitlin Dewey joined Recode’s Kara Swisher and The Verge’s Lauren Goode to talk about the popularity of sexting and the risks it might entail for both adults and children.

“You can find sexting on almost any social network, or sexual imagery on any social network that’s popular with teenagers,” Dewey said. “That would include things like Tumblr, or that new app Musical.ly.”

Also in question is whether sexting is really all that new of a phenomenon (Dewey thinks no). She said “the science is really out” on whether you can get addicted to sexting, noting that internet addiction and sex addiction have repeatedly been declined admission to DSM-5, a widely accepted manual of psychiatric disorders.

“People who feel they have this compulsion to sexting frequently have other issues with alcohol or drug abuse, or maybe they suffer from depression or anxiety disorders,” Dewey said. “It’s sort of like a chicken-or-an-egg problem: Is the sexting a symptom of this other problem, or is the sexting itself a problem?”

So, let’s assume you are a consenting adult in a relationship who wants to sext. Can you do so without consequences?

“They all tell you, we can try to make you as safe as possible, but there is nothing we can do to disable the screenshot function on the other end,” Dewey said of messaging apps like Snapchat. “Yes, you could call someone out and say ‘You took a picture of my sext,’ but then they already have the picture.”

“I would never, ever discourage anyone, a man or a lady, from taking sexy pictures of themselves; go for it,” she added. “But the safest thing to do is take it on an old-fashioned phone camera.”

“Take a Polaroid, put it in the snail mail,” Goode joked. “Hopefully the mailman doesn’t get curious and go through your mail.”

Have questions about sexting that we didn’t get to in this episode? Or have another tech topic on your mind? You can tweet any questions, comments and complaints to @Recode with the hashtag #TooEmbarrassed. You can also email your questions to TooEmbarrassed@recode.net, in case Twitter isn’t your thing.

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