"Sexting" among U.S. adolescents: psychological and legal perspectives

Harv Rev Psychiatry. Mar-Apr 2012;20(2):86-96. doi: 10.3109/10673229.2012.677360.


This article will discuss the phenomenon of "sexting" (i.e., the exchange of sexually explicit images between adolescents via cell phone) in the United States, with a particular focus on clinical and legal implications. Although sexting is frequently discussed in the popular press, there is virtually no scientific literature available on this topic. In contrast, the legal literature has discussed sexting more comprehensively due to the implications of child pornography statutes for the social response to involved youth. This article will consider sexting from a clinical and legal perspective, and recommend ways to understand and address this practice clinically with adolescent patients.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology*
  • Adolescent Development / physiology*
  • Cell Phone / statistics & numerical data
  • Erotica / psychology
  • Humans
  • Sexual Behavior / psychology*
  • Text Messaging*
  • United States