San Francisco, Calif., – The use of smartphones is associated with an
increased likelihood of being solicited for sex on the internet, and having sex
with an internet-met partner among teens, according to new research released
today at the American Public Health Association’s 140th Annual
Meeting in San Francisco, Calif.
According to the research,
young people with smartphones are 1.5 times as likely to report being sexually
active, almost two times as likely to have been approached online for sex, and
more than twice as likely to engage in sex with an Internet-met partner
compared with those who do not access the internet on their cell phones.
Additionally, those being solicited online for sex are also found to be
engaging in unprotected sex. Five percent of the participants reported using the
Internet to seek sex partners and 17 percent of the participants reported being
approached online for sex by someone they did not know.
Researchers from the
University of Southern California also found that compared with their
heterosexual peers, non-heterosexual high school students were five times more
likely to seek sex partners online. Overall, one-third of all participants use
their cell phones to access the Internet (i.e., have smartphones). Results are from
a 2011 survey distributed to high school students (n= 1,839) from the Los
Angeles Unified School District and were controlled for independent factors,
including age, race, gender and sexual orientation.
educators, physicians—must recognize that cell phones are yet another new way
for adolescents to meet sex partners,” said Hailey Winetrobe, MPH, CHES,
researcher at USC and an APHA Annual Meeting presenter. “Parents and school
health professionals should talk to their teens about being safe in meeting
people online and in using condoms to prevent sexually transmitted infections
and unplanned pregnancies.”
The authors note that the
Internet and smartphone apps represent prime venues for adolescent-targeted
sexual health programs.
APHA’s 140th Annual Meeting is themed “Prevention
and Wellness Across the Lifespan” and will focus on the importance of
environmental, social and behavioral issues that impact health at all stages of