New research shows that sexting is a common facet in young adult relationships today.

A study conducted by the University of Michigan looked at the sexting behavior of 3,447 men and women between the ages of 18-24 and found that sexting -- defined as "sending explicit messages or images by phone" -- is not only practiced, but common.

In addition, sexting was not associated with risky sexual behavior or psychological problems, Futurity notes.

The study, which was published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, revealed the following:

  • 57 percent of respondents were nonsexters
  • 28.2 percent were two-way sexters
  • 12.6 percent were receivers
  • 2 perecent were senders
  • Male respondents were more likely to be receivers than their female counterparts.
  • Sexually active respondents were more likely to be two-way sexters than non–sexually active ones.
  • Among participants who were sexually active in the past 30 days, no differences were found across sexting groups in the number of sexual partners or the number of unprotected sex partners in the past 30 days.
  • No relationship between sexting and psychological well-being.

Jose Bauermeister, director of the university’s Sexuality and Health Lab, said the findings contradict the public's perception of sexting, according to the San Francisco Gate.

Though sexting is often associated with horror stories, such as leaked nude photos and extramarital scandals, the University of Michigan's study suggests sexting can be part of a healthy relationship.

“We have to keep paying attention to how technology influences our lives, including our sexuality and our sexual behavior,” Bauermeister said in a news release obtained by Futurity.

However, the study did note some caveats.

The report states that “further research is needed to examine the association between sexting and mental health …pressure to sext and viral sexts may present mental health risks but to date, there are no studies that address these specific situations.”

Researchers also point out that sexting by minors is a separate issue.

“For younger age groups, legality is an issue,” co-author Debbie Gordon-Messer said in the news release. “They are also in a very different place in their sexual development.”

According to Self magazine, 92 percent of women said they send "sexy texts."

In an article highlighting "safe sexting" practices, experts suggest users take things slow and avoid sexting too much too soon.

"Less is more," Debra Goldstein and Olivia Baniuszewicz, authors of "Flirtexting," told Self. "A little mystery keeps everyone's interest piqued."

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