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How popular is sexting? The numbers may surprise you

New research shows 88 percent of adults surveyed admit to sexting
More adults embrace sexting in relationships 03:03

While much research has focused on the sexting habits of teens, a new study finds that the practice is extremely common among adults, as well.

Researchers from Drexel University surveyed 870 U.S. adults aged 18 to 82 about whether they send or receive sexy text messages, the motives behind sexting, and its affect on their relationships and sexual satisfaction.

For the purpose of the study, the authors defined sexting as the sending or receiving of sexually suggestive or explicit content via text message, primarily using a mobile device.

The results, presented at the American Psychological Association's 123rd Annual Convention, showed that 88 percent of participants reported that they had sexted at least once, and 82 percent said they had sexted in the past year.

That number may seem high, Columbia University psychology professor Sari Locker told "CBS This Morning," for several reasons.

First, the participants were paid to take a survey online about sexting, something adults who are not technology savvy may not participate in or even have heard about.

Locker also pointed out that the term "sexting" may mean different things to different people.

"One person may have said, 'Yes, I sent or received a sexy text message,' meaning, 'Last night was great.' Another person in the same study could have sent an X-rated, completely nude photo. Two very different things," she said.

Nevertheless, the study highlights some of the positive aspects of sexting. The researchers found that higher levels of sexting were associated with greater sexual satisfaction, especially for committed couples.

Sexting, can be a good thing, Locker said, because it "opens up sexual communication and it keeps the spark alive."

But she cautions that sexting can have negative consequences and is particularly risky for teenagers. And even among adults, sexting can create problems when it comes to security and privacy issues.

For starters, be careful where you check your text messages. "If your boss is over your shoulder and you click to open it and there's a picture of your spouse, uh oh," she said. "The other thing is we all know that anything sent electronically can be saved, can be forwarded, and can last forever."

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