The intersection of youth, technology, and new media with sexual health: moving the research agenda forward

J Adolesc Health. 2012 Sep;51(3):207-12. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2012.06.012.


Youth bear a significant proportion of the sexually transmitted infection (STI)/HIV burden in the United States, CDC, 2010. Available at:, with rates of some STIs increasing among youth of color and young men who have sex with men. Technology use among youth also continues to increase. The ubiquitous nature of technology use among youth offers a multitude of opportunities to promote youth sexual health and to prevent disease transmission and unplanned pregnancies. To date, there have been a handful of peer-reviewed articles published regarding the feasibility, acceptability, and effectiveness of using new media and technology for sexual health promotion. Despite recent publications, there is still a real need for high-quality research to understand the impact of different forms of new media use on youth sexual health, as well as to determine the best ways to harness technology to promote safer sex behaviors, both for the short- and long-term. In March 2011, Internet Sexuality Information Services (ISIS), National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), and the Ford Foundation convened a meeting of scientists and technology experts to discuss how to effectively conduct sexual health promotion research using new forms of technology. The meeting was structured to cover the following topic areas: (i) research-community partnerships, (ii) institutional review board and ethical issues, (iii) theoretical frameworks, (iv) intervention approaches, (v) recruitment methods, and (vi) assessing impact. Presentations included case studies of successful technology-based HIV/STI prevention interventions for youth, which led to broader discussions on how to conduct research in this area. This article summarizes the meeting proceedings, highlights key points, offers recommendations, and outlines future directions.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Behavioral Research*
  • Communications Media*
  • Ethics Committees, Research
  • Ethics, Research
  • Female
  • Health Promotion
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Patient Selection
  • Reproductive Health*
  • Social Support