OMG! Smartphone Sex Risk for Teens

Teenagers and their phones!  As any parent or indeed observer of human life knows, the mobile phone has become the most important adolescent accessoryTexting has even taken over from talking as their preferred form of communication. 72% of all teens and 88% of teen cell phone users text-message at least once a day.

And while they may not all rival world record texter, Fred Lidgren, who sent 566,607 text messages during a one month period, I know several who are not far behind. And for those of you still doing the math, yes that’s a staggering 18,887 texts per day or 787 per hour or 13 texts each minute. LOL!

Not only does smartphone use kill the art of conversation, it has a decidedly most sinister side-effect.  According to new research just presented at the American Public Health Association meeting, smartphone use among teens is associated with an increased likelihood of being solicited for sex and having sex with an internet-met partner.

According to a 2011 survey among almost two thousand Los Angeles high school students, young people with smartphones are one and a half 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% of the participants reported being approached online for sex by someone they did not know.

We, parents, health educators, physicians, must recognize that cell phones are yet another new way for adolescents to meet sex partners,” said researcher Hailey Winetrobe, MPH. “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.”

While we’re not suggesting that parents take their teenagers cell phones away, maybe it’s time to put those smartphones to good use and create apps and websites for adolescent-targeted sexual health programs.

What do you think?

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