Thursday, November 1, 2012

Teenagers with smart phones 'have more sex because they have more access to the internet'

Teenagers with smartphones have more sex than those with ordinary mobiles, according to a new report. Teens who access the internet through their phones are also more than twice as likely to engage in sex with a person they met online than those without access, the study found. Those with smartphones are also more likely to be sexually active in general, and more likely to say they had been approached for sex online, researchers from the University of Southern California said. The study was presented at the annual meeting of the America Public Health Association. Researcher Eric Rice, from the university's School of Social Work, said that while smartphones do not directly cause teenagers to engage in potentially risky sexual behaviour, they do make it easy. 'It's a tool through which this sort of behaviour can happen,' Mr Rice said. Mr Rice said that, while parents have come up with strategies to monitor the online behaviour of their children on computers, they also needed to take account of the internet access provided by a smartphone. 'I don't know that we've thought through quite as clearly what it means for teens to have the internet on their phones 24 hours a day,' he said. Rice said sex education programs should start to include discussions regarding the risks of seeking sex online. In addition, parents should use this as an opportunity to begin a discussion with their teen about sexual health and use of technology, he said. 'I don't want parents to freak out,' said Mr Rice. The study involved about 1,840 high-school students in the Los Angeles Unified School District who were surveyed in the 2010 to 2011 school year. Five percent said they used the internet to seek sex partners, and 17 percent said they had been approached for sex online. The researchers plan to submit their study for publication in a scientific journal.

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