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Date online? You're probably a sexter too

Sexting is on the rise, and cell owners who use online dating sites are the most likely to send, receive, and forward sexts.

texting smartphone
Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Despite the potential repercussions of exchanging explicit content, sexting is becoming increasingly popular among adults, and online daters are guiltier than anyone of the uncensored behavior, according to the Pew Research Center's newest report on couples, the Internet, and social media.

The research group determined that 9 percent of cell phone owners have sent a suggestive picture or video, while 20 percent have received one. The act of sending a sext is up 3 percent year over year, while being on the receiving end is up 5 percent since Pew's previous survey in 2012.

sexting online dating
Pew Research Center

Meanwhile, the behavior of forwarding a sext on to someone else was no more popular than it was a year ago. Still just 3 percent of cell owners indicated that they had forwarded a sext, according to Pew, which surveyed a sample of 2,252 adults last year.

Though sexting is popular among singles and those in relationships, cell phone owners who use online dating sites are the most likely to send, receive, and forward a sext. Fifty-five percent have received a sexually suggestive image, 31 percent have sent one, and 9 percent have forwarded a sext. Online daters are significantly more likely than non-online daters to perform all three activities, Pew determined.

sexting age
Pew Research Center

Unsurprisingly, younger adults are more likely to sext than their older peers. Cell owners ages 18 to 24 are most likely to say they receive sexually suggestive messages; 44 percent of this group said they were on the receiving end of a sext.

Pew links the rise in sexting to the growing popularity of smartphones, particularly because smartphone owners are much more likely than dumb-phone owners to sext, according to the research group. Twenty-seven percent of smartphone owners have received a sext, or nearly triple the 10 percent of other cell owners who have received one. The survey, however, doesn't explore how people sext, which means we don't know if messaging apps such as Snapchat are helping push forward the flirty trend.