Accessing sexual health information online: Use, motivations and consequences for youth with different sexual orientations

Kimberly J. Mitchell, Michele L. Ybarra, Josephine D. Korchmaros, Joseph G. Kosciw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

52 Scopus citations

Abstract

We examine reasons why youth of different sexual orientations look for sexual health information online, and what, if anything, they do with it. The Teen Health and Technology study involved online surveys of 5542 Internet users, ages 13 through 18 in the United States. Searching for sexual health information online was reported frequently and varied significantly by sexual orientation: from 19% of heterosexual youth to 78% of gay/lesbian/queer youth. The most common reasons youth look for sexual health information is for privacy and curiosity. Sexual minority youth are more likely than heterosexual youth to report that they looked for information online because they did not have anyone to ask. Once youth have the information, no differences by sexual orientation were noted as to what they did with it. Instead, seeking out the information for privacy-related reasons and having no one to ask were related to taking some action on the information received. Findings indicate that online information is most valuable to those youth who lack alternatives. Care needs to be taken to help ensure that the sexual health information online is accurate and includes topics specific to sexual minority youth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)147-157
Number of pages11
JournalHealth education research
Volume29
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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