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Sexting, Online Sexual Victimization, and Psychopathology Correlates by Sex: Depression, Anxiety, and Global Psychopathology

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  • Aina M. Gassó

    (Faculty of Law, Universitat Internacional de Catalunya, 08017 Barcelona, Spain)

  • Katrin Mueller-Johnson

    (Center for Criminology, Faculty of Law, Oxford University, Oxford OX1 3UL, UK)

  • Irene Montiel

    (Faculty of Law, Universitat Internacional de Catalunya, 08017 Barcelona, Spain
    Faculty of Education, Universidad Internacional de La Rioja (UNIR), 26006 Logroño, Spain)

Abstract

Recent research on sexting highlighted a relationship between this new technology-mediated behavior and psychopathology correlates, although up to date results are mixed, and so far, studies have often used simple and not clinically validated measures of mental health. This study aimed to investigate sexting behaviors, online sexual victimization, and related mental health correlates using clinically validated measures for global psychopathology, anxiety, and depression; and doing so separately for men and women. The sample consisted of 1370 Spanish college students (73.6% female; 21.4 mean age; SD = 4.85) who took part in an online survey about their engagement in sexting behaviors, online sexual victimization behaviors, and psychopathological symptomatology, measured by a sexting scale and the Listado de Síntomas Breve (brief symptom checklist) (LSB-50), respectively. Out of our total sample, 37.1% of participants had created and sent their own sexual content (active sexting), 60.3% had received sexual content (passive sexting), and 35.5% had both sent and received sexual content, with significant differences between male and female engagement in passive sexting. No differences were found between men and women in the prevalence of their victimization by nonconsensual dissemination of sexual content; however, women were more pressured and threatened into sexting than men. Sex differences in psychopathology were found only for depression prevalence rates but not for global psychopathology or anxiety. Furthermore, for male participants, our results showed a significant association only between online sexual victimization and psychopathology but not for consensual active and passive sexting. However, for the female participants, active sexting, passive sexting, and online sexual victimization were all associated with poorer mental health. Implications for prevention and intervention are discussed.

Suggested Citation

  • Aina M. Gassó & Katrin Mueller-Johnson & Irene Montiel, 2020. "Sexting, Online Sexual Victimization, and Psychopathology Correlates by Sex: Depression, Anxiety, and Global Psychopathology," IJERPH, MDPI, vol. 17(3), pages 1-18, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jijerp:v:17:y:2020:i:3:p:1018-:d:317078
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Aina M. Gassó & Bianca Klettke & José R. Agustina & Irene Montiel, 2019. "Sexting, Mental Health, and Victimization Among Adolescents: A Literature Review," IJERPH, MDPI, vol. 16(13), pages 1-14, July.
    2. Charles Ka Yui Leung & Joe Cho Yiu Ng & Edward Chi Ho TANG, 2019. "What do we know about Housing Supply? The case of Hong Kong," GRU Working Paper Series GRU_2019_012, City University of Hong Kong, Department of Economics and Finance, Global Research Unit.
    3. Mons Bendixen & Josef Daveronis & Leif Edward Ottesen Kennair, 2018. "The effects of non-physical peer sexual harassment on high school students’ psychological well-being in Norway: consistent and stable findings across studies," International Journal of Public Health, Springer;Swiss School of Public Health (SSPH+), vol. 63(1), pages 3-11, January.
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    1. Aina M. Gassó & Katrin Mueller-Johnson & José R. Agustina & Esperanza L. Gómez-Durán, 2021. "Exploring Sexting and Online Sexual Victimization during the COVID-19 Pandemic Lockdown," IJERPH, MDPI, vol. 18(12), pages 1-9, June.
    2. Tara L. Cornelius & Kathryn M. Bell & Tylor Kistler & Michelle Drouin, 2020. "Consensual Sexting among College Students: The Interplay of Coercion and Intimate Partner Aggression in Perceived Consequences of Sexting," IJERPH, MDPI, vol. 17(19), pages 1-18, September.
    3. Alberto Valido & Dorothy L. Espelage & Jun Sung Hong & Matthew Rivas-Koehl & Luz E. Robinson, 2020. "Social-Ecological Examination of Non-Consensual Sexting Perpetration among U.S. Adolescents," IJERPH, MDPI, vol. 17(24), pages 1-19, December.
    4. Esperanza L. Gómez-Durán & Carles Martin Fumadó & Aina M. Gassó & Sandra Díaz & Andrea Miranda-Mendizabal & Carlos G. Forero & Montserrat Virumbrales, 2022. "COVID-19 Pandemic Psychological Impact and Volunteering Experience Perceptions of Medical Students after 2 Years," IJERPH, MDPI, vol. 19(12), pages 1-12, June.
    5. Aina M. Gassó & Katrin Mueller-Johnson & Esperanza L. Gómez-Durán, 2021. "Victimization as a Result of Non-Consensual Dissemination of Sexting and Psychopathology Correlates: An Exploratory Analysis," IJERPH, MDPI, vol. 18(12), pages 1-13, June.
    6. Sebastian Wachs & Michelle F. Wright & Manuel Gámez-Guadix & Nicola Döring, 2021. "How Are Consensual, Non-Consensual, and Pressured Sexting Linked to Depression and Self-Harm? The Moderating Effects of Demographic Variables," IJERPH, MDPI, vol. 18(5), pages 1-16, March.

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