Adolescents' Views Regarding Uses of Social Networking Websites and Text Messaging for Adolescent Sexual Health Education

Am J Health Educ. 2011 Jul;42(4):205-212. doi: 10.1080/19325037.2011.10599189.


BACKGROUND: Adolescents frequently report barriers to obtaining sexual health education. PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to determine adolescents' views regarding how new technologies could be used for sexual health education. METHODS: Focus groups were conducted with a purposeful sample of adolescents between 14 and 19 years old. Facilitators asked participants for their views regarding use of social networking web sites (SNSs) and text messaging for sexual health education. Tape-recorded data was transcribed; transcripts were manually evaluated then discussed to determine thematic consensus. RESULTS: A total of 29 adolescents participated in 5 focus groups. Participants were 65.5% female. Three themes emerged from our data. First, adolescents preferred sexual health education resources that are accessible. Second, adolescents preferred online resources that are trustworthy. Third, adolescents discussed preference for "safe" resources. DISCUSSION: Adolescents were enthusiastic and insightful regarding technology for enhancing sexual health education. The themes that influence adolescents' preferences in sexual health education using technology are similar to barriers that exist in other aspects of adolescent health communication. TRANSLATION TO HEALTH EDUCATION PRACTICE: Findings suggest ways in which health organizations can understand adolescents' views and concerns about how their interactions with professionals take place regarding sexual health.