For the next four days, I will be taking in the sights and sounds of the biennial conference of the Society for Research on Adolescence. This morning was great because I went to a whole special interest group session on adolescent romantic relationships (when you are among researchers and academics, you think about “adolescent phenomena”, not “teen issues” or “stuff”). I heard from those whose work I have followed and admired for years. I listened to the new wave of thinking in which researchers have started to look at the healthy aspects of adolescent sexuality and sexual expression (note: it was acknowledged that this sort of research is essentially not fundable in today’s political climate).
But no one there mentioned the internet as a factor in conceptualizing adolescent sexual, intimate, or romantic relationships.
OK, I said, I still have several sessions to go. I took a look at the program. The terms “internet” and “online” were not in the index. Some computer-related studies were found under “technology” but none addressed socialization. Finally, after scouring the pages of this program, I found THREE papers related to teens, sex, and the internet. OK, I really only found ONE, as the other two were simply related to teen internet usage and family structure and the relationship between internet use and self-injurious behavior. The one study that actually examined teens using the internet for sexual expression was conducted by researchers in the Czech Republic. The study on teen internet usage and family came from Berlin.
Why is America so behind the times?