[ Back to EurekAlert! ] Public release date: 1-May-2010
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Contact: Susan Martin
ssmartin@aap.org
847-434-7877
American Academy of Pediatrics

Social networking sites may provide clues to teens' sexual intentions

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA For parents wondering when they should talk to their children about sex, the writing may be on the wall or on their child's Facebook page.

New research suggests that display of sexual references on teens' Facebook profiles is associated with their intention to initiate intercourse.

The study, led by Megan A. Moreno, MD, MPH, MSEd, from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Dimitri A. Christakis, MD, MPH, of Seattle Children's Research Institute, will be presented Saturday, May 1 at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

"Parents and physicians are often seeking clues for when it's time to have 'the talk' about sex with a teenager," Dr. Moreno said. "Our study suggests that if sexual content is noted on a teen's social networking site profile, it's definitely time for that talk."

Dr. Moreno's team previously found that 54 percent of MySpace profiles contained high-risk behavior information, with 24 percent referencing sexual behavior ("Display of Health Risk Behaviors on MySpace by Adolescents," published in January 2009 in Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine). The researchers hypothesized that these displays may represent involvement in risk behaviors, consideration of risk behaviors or just adolescent grandstanding.

In the current study, researchers investigated what sexual displays on social networking sites represent in the offline world. They identified publicly available Facebook profiles of college freshmen, 85 of whom completed a survey measuring sexual experiences, risky sexual behavior, and for those not yet sexually active, sexual intention.

Researchers found a strong association between display of sexual references on Facebook and self-reported intention to initiate sexual intercourse.

The authors concluded that social networking sites present innovative opportunities for clinicians, educators and parents to identify adolescents who may benefit from targeted education regarding safe sex practices prior to sexual initiation.

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To see the abstract, go to http://www.abstracts2view.com/pas/view.php?nu=PAS10L1_268&terms

The Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) are four individual pediatric organizations who co-sponsor the PAS Annual Meeting the American Pediatric Society, the Society for Pediatric Research, the Academic Pediatric Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Members of these organizations are pediatricians and other health care providers who are practicing in the research, academic and clinical arenas. The four sponsoring organizations are leaders in the advancement of pediatric research and child advocacy within pediatrics, and all share a common mission of fostering the health and well being of children worldwide. For more information, visit www.pas-meeting.org. Follow news of the PAS meeting on Twitter at http://twitter.com/PedAcadSoc.



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