A recent presentation at the American Public Health Association Conference reported the differences in sexual behavior between youth that have smart phones versus less sophisticated ones. in a nutshell, of the teens (from LA) surveyed, those with smartphones were more likely to have sex, have sex without a condom, meet others online for sex, and be sexually solicited than teens without Internet access on their phones,
Although most press coverage consisted of the same content, the headlines varied greatly. The US News and World Report simply stated Smartphones linked to sexual activity in teens: Dull, but to the point and accurate. Kudos as well to the New York Daily News (yes, you read that right — they did good here) for having a slightly more sensational headline, but still getting the facts right:
Lead researcher Eric Rice of USC School of Social Work did a great job of representing his work accurately and was lucky enough to be quoted well in the articles at least. I continue to hope for a day when teen sexuality is NOT used to grab attention by being portrayed in a scandalous, irresponsible manner. If we want them to be mature about their sexual decision making, the least us adults could do is set a good example for them.
A study of 58 teens found that about a third of them look up information about contraception online, and “most” were “wary” of the accuracy of the information. Incidentally, these teens also said they get a lot of information about contraception from friends, but they are just as unreliable a source.
In contrast, teens said that they felt the information they received at school could be trusted. This is too bad, because many abstinence until marriage sex ed programs contain inaccurate information about condoms. And while parents are often cited as a source teens want to hear from, conversations between parents and their children can be awkward, few, and far-between. Also, it’s not really safe to assume parents have the information — after all, their parents probably did a poor job of talking to them and that ignorance is passed down from generation to generation.
So, where do we turn as parents or youth? Oh yeah, to the internet. It has all the information one needs. Or, you could always ask a friend.
The CDC just released its School Health Profiles, which outline the rates different states teach various health issues, including topics concerning HIV, STD, and pregnancy prevention. Alarming to me is the fact that less than one-fourth of schools across the country (out of the 36 states surveyed) teach youth how to use a condom. But Utah takes the cake — only ONE PERCENT of schools teach condom usage there. Ugh. Virginia also has an embarrassingly low rate of 7.7%.
Kudos to New York where over half (59%) of school teach their students how to use condoms.
In the spirit of sharing links and encouraging sex education online, I want to show off Marvin and his Condom Friends — an animated short about proper condom use designed for middle schoolers. Marvin’s story is part of a larger sex ed curriculum It’s Your Game, Keep It Real that includes both in-class and computer-based lessons. He and the condom team are cute and seem to go over the basics on proper condom use. Except what happened to the important lesson of leaving room at the tip? This video gets it right, but isn’t as entertaining as talking condoms. And the follow-up interactive lesson provided by It’s Your Game does make a point of it, but IMO, can be overlooked.
I’d love to know what you think! Would you be happy to see Marvin at your middle school? What would you do if you saw a thirteen-year-old checking out these videos?