In a recent article by Landry, et al, in JMIR Public Health and Surveillance (2017), researchers looked at the relationship between sexual behavior and social media usage for teenagers. The article discussed potential negative factors of social media, regarding health consequences for teens, and examined if there is an association between how often one utilizes social media and impulsive or risky sexual behaviors. Risky sexual activity includes unprotected sex, alcohol usage when engaging in sexual activity, and number of sexual partners. The sample size was over five hundred teens, ages 13-19, of Latino descent.
Teenagers that sent over 100 texts per day were more likely to engage in risky sexual activity. A mediating variable was that when parents monitored the social media usage of teens, there were substantial declines in risk of sexual activity. Risk for unsafe sexual behaviors is also reduced if teens view their parents as supportive and parents are aware of their teens’ general whereabouts.
These are important findings. In my practice, parents often inquire if it is necessary to set limits on social media activity and there are certainly benefits in doing so. Also, the variable of support as a parent is crucial and comes up in a wide variety of research studies, from resiliency studies to positive outcomes when children are placed into foster placement settings or group homes