An American man 30 years ago might have been astounded to find his wife sharing sexually explicit images of herself through a magical realm made possible by emerging technology, only to find himself “poked” on Facebook by an ex-lover looking to reconnect.

Although discursive technology had for centuries allowed communication in the epistolary form, no doubt today’s telephonic capability facilitates many more opportunities for romance, within and without the bounds of traditional marriage. A new survey from software security firm McAfee shows that nearly half — 49 percent — of American adult smartphone users engage in sexting, the practice of sharing sexually explicit thoughts and images via the MMS photo-messaging protocol.

Among findings, some 96 percent of smartphone users use their device to take photographs, with approximately one in two snapping sexually explicit images, or video, to share with their object d’esire. Specifically, 49 percent of users send or receive sexual content by any technical route onto that phone screen, including text- and photo-messaging as well as online email and social media.

Half of users who sext store prurient content on their devices and on the cloud, according to McAfee online security expert — or “sexpert” — Robert Siciliano. Many of those people share “private details about their lives, including those of an intimate nature such as nude photos and sexts — all of this on unsecured digital devices — now that’s just asking for a social scandal.”

In a blog post, Siciliano wrote that while 77 percent of sexters share content with romantic partners 16 percent are flirting with random strangers found online through dating sites, gaming, blogging, and all manner of community. Not surprisingly, McAfee found that younger adults ages 18-24 were most likely to sext, with 70 percent engaging in the behavior. Men were also significantly more likely to sext at 61 percent to 48 percent for women.

Never mind the advice of psychological experts and leading spiritual advisors on the phenomenon, McAfee brings it all back to the firm’s raison d’etre, online security. "Far too many people are sharing e-mail and bank account passwords with their partners," Siciliano wrote. "By sharing too much you run the risk of having your information go public without your knowledge, posing a threat to your privacy and identity."

And in case you’re wondering, the percentage of users who secure their smartphone with a password? Sixty-nine.