For Immediate Release
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Smartphones a new risky avenue for sex among teens

 

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.

“We—parents, health 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 life.

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Founded in 1872, the APHA is the oldest and most diverse organization of public health professionals in the world. The association aims to protect all Americans and their communities from preventable, serious health threats and strives to assure community-based health promotion and disease prevention activities and preventive health services are universally accessible in the United States. APHA represents a broad array of health providers, educators, environmentalists, policy-makers and health officials at all levels working both within and outside governmental organizations and educational institutions. More information is available at www.apha.org.