Hookup App Use, Sexual Behavior, and Sexual Health Among Adolescent Men Who Have Sex With Men in the United States

J Adolesc Health. 2018 Jun;62(6):708-715. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2018.01.001.


Purpose: Geosocial networking applications (e.g., "hookup apps") are widely used among adult men who have sex with men (MSM). Little is known about adolescent MSM's (AMSM) use of these apps. Exploratory research is needed as AMSM's app use poses various ethical, legal, and sexual health concerns. This article examined AMSM's app use patterns and its associations with their sexual health and behavior.

Methods: Two hundred sexually experienced AMSM in the United States (M age = 16.6, 49% racial/ethnic minority) completed online survey questions assessing their use of apps specific to MSM and not specific to MSM to meet partners for dating and sex, as well as their sexual behavior and HIV risk.

Results: Overall, 52.5% of participants (n = 105) reported using MSM-specific apps to meet partners for sex. Of these, most participants reported having oral (75.7%, n = 78) and anal sex (62.1%, n = 64) with those partners. Of those who reported having anal sex, 78.1% (n = 50) had sex with those partners more than once, and only 25.0% (n = 16) always used condoms with those partners. Relative to those who used only non-MSM-specific apps, MSM-specific app users reported more sex partners and condomless anal sex partners, greater perceived risk of HIV, more engagement in sexual health services, and greater odds of HIV testing.

Conclusions: Use of MSM-specific apps was not uncommon among this sample of AMSM. Patterns of risk behavior and HIV testing were similar to samples of adult MSM app users. Further research should investigate AMSM's app-related sexual and HIV/sexually transmitted infection prevention decision-making to guide sexual health education efforts for AMSM.

Keywords: Adolescent sexual behavior; Geosocial networking applications; HIV/AIDS; Men who have sex with men; Social media.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Condoms / statistics & numerical data
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mobile Applications / statistics & numerical data*
  • Sexual Behavior / psychology
  • Sexual Behavior / statistics & numerical data*
  • Sexual Partners
  • Sexual and Gender Minorities / psychology
  • Sexual and Gender Minorities / statistics & numerical data*
  • Social Networking
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States