Teens with Smartphones May Engage in Riskier Sexual Behavior

By Currie, Donya | The Nation's Health, January 2013 | Go to article overview
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Teens with Smartphones May Engage in Riskier Sexual Behavior


Currie, Donya, The Nation's Health


TEENS WITH smartphones are more likely to engage in risky sexual behaviors, according to research presented at APHA's 140th Annual Meeting in San Francisco.

The study of about 1,800 high school students in the Los Angeles Unified School District found teens with Internet-accessible smartphones were more than twice as likely to have sex with someone they met online. Teens with smartphones also were more likely to report being sexually active and being solicited online for sex, according to the research.

"I think this not so much about the technology as it is about the privacy," said APHA member Eric Rice, PhD, a researcher at the University of Southern California School of Social Work. "I don't think having a swankier phone makes you a riskier teen. I think really what the issue is, is that having a smartphone means you can get on the Internet anywhere, outside the watchful eyes of your parents."

That privacy then makes it easier for teens to meet with potential sex partners online, he told The Nation's Health.

The research also found that, compared with their heterosexual peers, nonheterosexual high school students were five times more likely to seek sex partners online. Overall, a third of the study's participants used their cellphone to access the Internet.

The research also found teens who have been solicited by a stranger for sex online were three times more likely to report having sex with someone they met online. Teens who reported looking for sex partners online were 12 times more likely to report having had sex with someone they met online. And in the study, 47 percent of teens with smartphones were sexually active, compared to 35 percent of teens without smartphones.

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