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May 07, 2014

Sext the Nation: Brits and Their Saucy Texts

Texting has become a prominent part of most of our daily lives – you only have to leave your phone at home for one day to realise how much we have come to rely on the humble SMS.

Yet it seems the text is now beginning to play an increasingly important part in our love lives too. To investigate this phenomenon, we commissioned a YouGov survey into the sending of sexually explicit texts, or “sexts”.

Here is a full run-down on our findings. (Warning: Those prone to blushing, look away now) :

Sext the Nation

  • Overall, 21% of mobile phone owners said they have sent a sext at some point in their life
  • Those aged 18-24 were found to be the most prolific sexters, with 42% having sent at least one sext at some point in their life. 10% of respondents in this age group send a sext every 2-3 months.
  • By contrast, of those aged 55 and over just 3% had sexted at some point, and less than 1% of this group sexted more frequently than every 2-3 months.
  • Men are more prolific sexters than women, with a quarter (25%) of males having sent at least one sext in their lifetime. 18% of women said the same.
  • 28% of UK adults said they have had between two and five sexual partners. 60% of people have had between one and ten.

Regional sexting

  • The people of the North East are the most prolific sexters regionally, with 30% of mobile phone owners respondents in this area saying they’d sent a sext at some point. They were also amongst the most frequent, with 5% of North East-based respondents sexting more often than once a day.
  • Northern Ireland residents showed the lowest levels of overall sexting, with just 14% of people having sexted at some point in their life.

Child advisory

The results of the survey showed there is a possible correlation between the number of children in a survey respondent’s household and the likelihood of that respondent sexting.

  • 41% of people with three children or more in their household sext – making them more than twice as likely to sext as people without any children in the household (18%).
  • People with three or more children in their household are not only the more likely sexters, they’re also more prolific: 3% of respondents in this category said they sexted more than once a day, compared to 1% of those with either no, one or two children in the household.

It takes all types

Many different personality types owned up to sexting, but personality traits do seem play a role in influencing how likely someone is to sext.

  • 55% of those describing themselves as flirty and adventurous said they had sexted at some point.
  • This is in contrast to 16% of people who described themselves as loyal and dependable who said they had sexted at some point.

Misdirection

  • 13% of mobile phone owners said they had sent an awkward or embarrassing text in error to someone. Friends were the most likely recipients (6%).
  • Men were slightly more likely than women to send an awkward or embarrassing text in error, with 13% of men at some point having done so
  • Young people were also more likely to misdirect a text and create an awkward situation. Those aged 18-24 were the most likely to send an awkward or embarrassing message in error with 30% of this age group having done so. Worryingly, 2% of people in this age group said they had sent an embarrassing or awkward text to a father-in-law.
  • Those with three or more children in their household were most likely to misdirect an awkward or embarrassing text with28%of respondents in this demographic having done so at some point.6% of people in this demographic have sent an awkward or embarrassing text in error to their fatherin-law and 3% to their mother-in-law, 10% had sent one to a sibling.
  • People in the North East were most likely to misdirect an awkward or embarrassing text, with 25% of respondents from this region who had sent a text of this nature to the wrong person at some point.

Unsafe sexts

  • 15% of respondents who have sent a sext have sent a sexually explicit text to the wrong person at some point.
  • 3% of mobile phone owners have sent an explicit image of themselves to the wrong person.

The following are just some of the examples of misdirected texts sent by our survey respondents:

“The message was a picture of my privates to my ex arranging for some sex.”

“Talking about [who] I had slept with the night before and was texting a friend to say how bad it was and accidentally sent it to the girl that I had slept with!”

“Sexy massage for two tonight x”

“Sent a loving message intended for my husband to my business partner. Both have the same first name.”

“Said I loved someone – to the wrong person.”

“That I wanted to have sex with them.”

“It was an image of me in an Ann Summers outfit. I sent it to my cousin by mistake who shares the [same] first name as my husband.”

“A photo of me in my lingerie. The text detailed all the sexual things I wanted to do to my boyfriend when he came home from Australia.”

Text Dump

While our saucy texts are helping to put a bit of extra spice in some relationships, many of us are also using texts to end them.

  • 6% of people admitted ending a relationship via text or a similar instant messaging service.
  • Once again those in the North East were the most likely to use text or instant messaging to end a relationship, with 11% of respondents from this region having done so.
  • Those in the East of England and Scotland were the most likely to be on the receiving end of a relationship-ending instant message, with 9% having had a relationship ended in this way.
  • Almost one in five of those aged 18-24 had been on the receiving end of a relationship-ending instant message (19%).

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.

Total sample size was 2,554 adults of which 2478 own a mobile phone.

Fieldwork was undertaken between 12th-13th March 2014. The survey was carried out online.

The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).