Sexuality: “We send nudes younger and younger”, reveals a Franco-Belgian study

Sexuality: “We send nudes younger and younger”, reveals a Franco-Belgian study

Sexting and sexting have taken precedence over the ancestral sextape, even if it is not quite the same thing. These “new” sexual practices owe their rise to power with the advent of smartphones, which are now found in all pockets, even among the youngest. At the initiative of Ludovic Blécot, a clinical sexologist from Lille, several French and Belgian researchers have questioned one of the aspects of sexting: the sending of “nudes” to young people aged 13 to 25. Without judgement, the findings of this study are nevertheless striking.

The study in question was conducted over two years among 10,700 young French and Belgian French-speaking people aged 13 to 25. The respondents are 70.5% women and 80.13% French. To the main question they were asked, namely “have you already sent one or more nudes? », Three quarters (74.5%) answered in the affirmative. “This high figure did not necessarily surprise us, in particular because the technological means available have given a certain extent to this practice”, explains Ludovic Blécot.

The risk of “secondary sharing”

Nevertheless, it was necessary to make an inventory of this practice which is not well documented in France and Belgium. “The exchanges with the professionals drew a rather alarmist observation which was more linked to a representation of the phenomenon than to reality”, continues the sexologist. A “negative media coverage” which only took into account the dangers of “secondary sharing”, in other words, the fact of seeing intimate photos intended for a single person sent without their consent to third parties. “It is indeed a significant risk since nearly half of the respondents assured that it had already happened to them”, recognizes Ludovic Blécot.

The real lessons of this study are elsewhere. At 17, they are proportionally more likely to have sent a nude than were at the same age people now aged 18 to 25. “This clearly means that we send more and more young nudes. Except that, paradoxically, the age of the first sexual intercourse does not change, established at 17 years for a decade”, deciphers the sexologist.

“An inversion of guilt”

The other lesson is that sending nudes is no longer limited to couples, as was still mostly the case a few years ago. “Sending a nude to a person with whom you are not in a relationship is now done in a greater proportion, notes the sexologist. It is an evolution of practices”. Moreover, the study shows that 3% of people who have already sent a nude did so in order to obtain “favors”, sexual relations, money, services or even drugs.

In general, among 13-25 year olds, sending nudes is perceived rather positively. Strangely, this perception does not change among those who have had the experience of seeing an intimate photo shared without their consent. This partly explains why the vast majority of victims do not file a complaint. “Many testimonies also report a reversal of guilt,” notes Ludovic Blécot. Basically, it’s your fault, you shouldn’t send these types of photos. So, as with any sexual practice, there is good and potentially less good. “The important thing is to talk about it without feeling guilty, to control without coping, insists the sexologist. Explaining the risks is also the challenge of prevention”.


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