Accessing Sexual Health Information Online
By: Mitchell, K.J., Ybarra, M.L., Korchmaros, J.D, & Kosciw, J. G.
In: Health Education Research, volume 28, issue 6
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.