As a certain disgraced politician make headlines—once again—over a sexting scandal, a secondary issue is gathering attention: can sexting be a real addiction? The answer is ambiguous, at best, taking into consideration that the notion of having a sex addiction is only three decades old and idea of being addicted to the Internet is even younger.
Despite the fact that the concept of having a sexting addiction is common, there is reluctance on the part of the American Psychiatric Association to identify it as a disorder. But that may be a while away since the organization has not included sex addiction (or Internet addiction, for that matter) in its most recent update to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in 2013. The issue with any sex-related addiction—whether it be a dependency on pornography or an addiction to sexting—is the difficulty surrounding a clear cut diagnosis.
“Our society is overly prone towards both technophobia and fear and condemnation of sex,” said David Ley, author of The Myth of Sex Addiction, to Motherboard. “As people employ this technology in sexual ways, the combination leads, inevitably, to these modern kinds of moral panics.”
Psychotherapist Joseph Burgo, who wrote about sexting in The Atlantic, says it boils down to narcissism. And according to The Washington Post, which cites a study published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior, individuals with the inclination to sex are also more likely to engage in “high-risk behaviors.”
Regardless of the cause, one thing remains clear: as people continue to make the same sexting blunders over and over, there needs to be more research to conclude whether sexting can be an addiction on its own or if it’s an extension of an underlying addiction to sex or the Internet—or none of the above!