The difference between using these applications and traditional texting is that content is transmitted over the Internet or a data plan, allowing anyone with Internet access to participate.Snapchat appeals to teens because it allows users to send photos for a maximum of ten seconds before they self-destruct.found that among the quarter of their sample that were ages 10–12, [less than] 0.6% 'appeared in, created, or received a nude or nearly nude image' while among those age 15–17, 15% of participants reported having done so.Despite it being widely reported in the media, the overall prevalence figure of 2.5% masks a dramatic age effect that indicates that more than 1 in 8 mid-teen minors admit to having sexted." Strassberg, Mc Kinnon, et al.The study had a small sample size, so more research needs to be done surrounding sexting and motivation, but it is clear that sexting is a phenomenon that is not constrained to simply unattached individuals looking for fun; it is used by those in intimate relationships to increase feelings of intimacy and closeness one's partner.For teens, sexting can also act as a prelude (or in lieu of) sexual activity, as an experimental phase for those who are yet to be sexually active, and for those who are hoping to start a relationship with someone.
There have been several cases where teens have sent photos over these applications, expecting them to disappear or be seen by the recipient only, yet are saved and distributed, carrying social and legal implications.
In the University of Utah's study, researchers Donald S. Sustaíta, and Jordan Rullo surveyed 606 teenagers ages 14–18 and found that nearly 20 percent of the students said they had sent a sexually explicit image of themselves via cell phone, and nearly twice as many said that they had received a sexually explicit picture.
Of those receiving such a picture, over 25 percent indicated that they had forwarded it to others.
A widely cited 2011 study indicated the previously reported prevalence was exaggerated.
Researchers at the University of New Hampshire surveyed 1,560 children and caregivers, reporting that only 2.5 percent of respondents had sent, received or created sexual pictures distributed via cell phone in the previous year.