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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1860/3087

Title: Teens, Sex and the Internet: A Pilot Study on the Internet and its Impact on Adolescent health and Sexuality
Authors: Cohn, Daran
Keywords: Teens;Adolescents;Sex;Internet;Public Health
Issue Date: 21-Aug-2009
Abstract: PROBLEM: Parents, teachers, and healthcare providers have been struggling to negotiate their changing roles and responsibilities with adolescents who are now growing up in a digital world. This study explored the ways that the Internet may both help and harm adolescent health and development, including adolescent understanding about human sexuality, attitudes about the sexual world, and sexual behaviors. METHODS: High school students and their parents/primary caretakers from a private urban school with a diverse student body participated in a mixed methods study. For the quantitative component, a convenience sample of eight high school students and their parents/primary caretakers completed a survey with five general themes: demographics, communication, knowledge, attitudes/beliefs and Internet behaviors. Teens’ responses were compared to parent responses. For the qualitative component, nine high school students and four parents/primary caretakers of high school students participated in focus group discussions (one focus group with three teen girls and one focus group with six teen boys for the student focus groups, and one focus group with four parents for the parent focus group). The focus groups used a semi-structured format to explore three themes: learning about health, using the Internet, and determining the nature and extent of what is learned from the Internet about health and sexuality. RESULTS: The results of this study indicate that among teens who participated, a primary resource for learning about sex and obtaining sexual health information was the Internet. A popular online source for learning was Internet pornography, particularly among boys. Parents were unaware of this as well as their teens’ use of the Internet for learning about sex. While parents and teens were somewhat comfortable talking to each other about sex in general, parents were not a primary resource teens referred to when they had questions about sexual behavior. SIGNIFICANCE: The quantitative and qualitative components provided further insight into why and how teens are learning about sex from the Internet and how the Internet affects adolescent sexuality, sexual health and development. Results will guide the development of future research and materials provide guidance for parents and other adults in effectively helping teens navigate the benefits and dangers to adolescent health that exist in the online environment.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1860/3087
Appears in Collections:Health Sciences Theses and Dissertations

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