The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA

The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA

3075.0: Monday, November 17, 2003 - Board 2

Abstract #62722

Adolescents experience with sex on the Web: Results from online focus groups

Kenzie A. Cameron, PhD1, Laura F. Salazar, PhD2, Jay M Bernhardt, PhD, MPH3, Gina M. Wingood, ScD, MPH4, and Ralph J. DiClemente, PhD4. (1) Speech Communication, University of Georgia, 145 Terrell Hall, Athens, GA 30602-1725, (706) 542-0586,, (2) Rollins School of Public Health, Emory Univeristy, 1518 Clifton Rd. 5th Floor, Atlanta, GA 30322, (3) Behavioral Sciences and Health Education, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, 1518 Clifton Road NE, Atlanta, GA 30322, (4) Rollins School of Public Health, Dept of Behavioral Sciences and Health Education, Emory University, 1518 Clifton Road, NE, Atlanta, GA 30322

Although practitioners, policy makers, public health officials, and parents have expressed concern about adolescent exposure to sexualized media on the Internet, there is a paucity of empirical data on adolescents experience with such exposure, or its effects. This study used online focus groups (N = 40 adolescents) from a national panel to ascertain the extent to which adolescents (ages 14 – 17) are exposed to sexually explicit material (SEM) on the Internet, the manner in which they are exposed to it, the nature of SEM to which they are exposed, and their perceptions of SEM overall. We found that only male adolescents reported voluntary exposure to SEM on the Internet, and the remaining participants who saw it did so unintentionally (e.g., mistyping a web address, clicking an e-mail link, etc.). Adolescent males were split in their reactions to such material, with some indicating interest and arousal and others expressing dislike. The younger female adolescents tended to indicate that SEM was “gross” and “nasty,” whereas the older female adolescents expressed more nuanced distaste (e.g., “it strips us of our dignity”). Both males and females expressed that there are limits to what is “tasteful,” with regard to online SEM, but these limits and descriptions varied by age and gender. All participants indicated that they believed that exposure to SEM would have no effect on them, a perception inconsistent with previous pornography research. Finally, adolescents indicated that any attempts at parental monitoring of web sites were easily skirted and almost always ineffective.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Adolescents, Internet

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I have a significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.
Relationship: This study was supported by a grant from the Center for Mental Health research on AIDS, National Institute of Mental Health (1 R01 MH63696) to the last author. Dr. Salazar is an NIMH HIV Prevention Fellow.

Risk Taking and Sexual Behavior

The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA