When youth make their own sex ed videos…

Just wanted to share this video, written by youth from Teens PACT (Positive Action and Choices for Teens). Some say it sends the wrong message and promotes sex in its tongue-in-cheek humor. Others think the approach makes it more effective. I haven’t decided. Truth is, nothing like this in isolation makes for effective prevention, but I love the fact that these young people are getting creative in the name of safe sex!

“Am I pretty?” Questions better left unasked

I am not so sure this is a new trend, but it is one that the media have picked up over the last few days. Most of the articles and blog posts say pretty much the same thing: Middle-school aged girls are posting videos on YouTube asking viewers if they are pretty or not. Then let the responses begin…

This is not unlike Hot or Not, the web site specifically created to answer the question, which has since morphed into a dating site full of risque pics and cleavage. And given the focus on dating, this site is not really meant for the younger set. So, for tweens and early teens, YouTube, in their eyes, will suffice.

My thoughts on this were featured on the amazing Anne Collier’s blog post. Anne and I exchanged thoughts over whether these videos are more harmful than a site like Hot or Not. I think the jury is still out. What I want to add, however, is that although I did say that many of the comments under this one particular video were “stupid” — and by that I mean irrelevant and off topic, there were also ones that were quite harmful and disturbing. For example, one person replied that the poster was “pretty enough to rape.” No one should ever read that.

Alarmists find new things to worry about

A news release by PRNewswire highlights “startling data” regarding young people’s exposure to dubious content online — the second component of sex, drugs, and rock and roll. A study conducted by Nielsen Online for the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) found that:

— “Nearly one in 20 teens online viewed drug-related videos during a one- month period” (uh, that means less than 5 percent, in case you haven’t noticed. Not too earth-shattering, IMO) AND 35 percent were under age 16. This means that just over 1% of youth under 16 have seen a drug-related video in the past month. Yawn. It gets even sketchier when we take the next statistic:

— Almost 40 percent of drug-related videos contain explicit use of drugs and/or intoxication.

Overall, it means this: less than two percent of youth have seen a video depicting the explicit use of drugs and/or alcohol in the past month. When considering only those youth under the age of 16, the number drops to under half a percent.

I got up for this? Seriously.

The article itself goes on to cite other statistics about exposure to questionable content online. But the sources are less than reputable (usually, sites trying to sell filter software), so are not worth repeating here.

While I commend researchers for looking beyong predator “stranger danger,” I hope that findings such as these do not become the new reason to panic about internet use.

A rose by any other name

When you visit sex education sites, do you expect to get that “warm-fuzzy” feeling? Planned Parenthood Columbia Willamette wants teenagers to feel just that, so they’ve started a new campaign: Take Care Down There. With skits & songs ranging from I didn’t spew (“you can get a sexually transmitted infection … even if you don’t spew!”) to Threesome (“you two have been makin’ some intercourse, haven’t you?”) to the Down There Song, Planned Parenthood Columbia Willamette hopes to warmly welcome teenagers to their website to learn about sexual education. The Down There Song even surprised me – there were names for sexual organs that I had never heard of.

While I was entertained by the videos, I was plagued with the question; “will teens think this is too cheesy?” and “Is this as ridiculous as it seems to me?” and we want to know what you think about the site! Take a look at the videos, listen to the song, and let us know what you think? Beware though, the song is catchy and you may find yourself humming the tune all day long! Very few other bloggers have written about this new campaign, so we want to know what YOU think! Is this site TOO immature for teens? Share your honest opinion with us – we really want to know!

Another Planned Parenthood entry by the Virtual Mystery Tour can be found here.

Cutest video ever!

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?

Why Is Sex So Interesting and Sex Ed So Boring?

Here’s a cool video contest for youth. DoGooderTV and Advocates for Youth are joining forces to host an opportunity for young people to use digital tech to talk about their sex education or tell people how to make it better. First prize gets $3500. No small potatoes!

I personally can’t wait to see the entries, some of which are already posted here. As a professor of Human Sexuality at the college level, I have collected the stories of students’ “sex education so far.” And the themes I read, by and large, are quite negative, or uninspiring at best. It will be great to hear youth tell us a thing or two about how to do our job!