When is the right time to start talking about sex? When your 13? Or a bit later around 16? While there isn’t a defined gold standard for when to talk about the birds and the bees, the bottom line is that sex education should be provided to anyone who asks. Most teens won’t go to their parents or teachers for this information, but often talk with their peers or go online. Online, those who may be too shy to ask in person are protected by anonymity while still being able to have their questions answered. The following list is comprised of 5 online resources for sexual health.
Scarleteen is one of the most prevailing young adult sex education sites around. It is also one of the broader sites on the topic from introductory articles to interactive discussions. You can use the search to get around to the topic of interest or the whole page of tags. Since 2006, they have had over one billion hits and over 100 million page loads. They engage in around 5,000 direct conversations with users online per year on average via their direct services. Most users find Scarleteen through search engines or when provided a link or verbal referral from friends, other websites or magazines; parents, guardians and other family members; healthcare providers/clinics or other sexuality/sexual health education programs and resources. They provide online static content, interactive services, referrals, outreach, and mentoring.
- Sex, Etc.
The Sex, Etc. website is the online avatar of their national magazine. The site has 16 topic areas covering information on sex and relationships, pregnancy, STDs, birth control, sexual orientation, and more. The sex education website has the tagline “sex education by teens, for teens.” The site has a videos section which address the main problem areas identified by their target population. They also have a “Fun” section that includes a condom game and a multimedia section about the lighter, funnier side of sex.
- Planned Parenthood
The Planned Parenthood website is just the online face of a leading US community healthcare provider. With 88 unique, locally governed affiliates and more than 840 health centers in the Unites States; they have the means to educate on reproductive and sexual health. Their Info for Teens section is where teen related sexual health issues find a place. Videos, animations, and an Ask the Expert section round off an extremely well designed site. Social Networking buffs can also connect with Planned Parenthood groups on Facebook and MySpace.
- It’s Your Sex Life
It’s Your Sex Life is the official website of MTV and the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Emmy Award winning It’s Your (Sex) Life public information campaign. MTV is an online destination for many youth. The channel seeks to combine that with information on teen related sex and relationship FAQs.Sections of their website include What Works/What Doesn’t chart to prevent unwanted pregnancies and STDs. The Get Yourself Talking section gets more interactive with videos, discussions and interactive participation. The site also has an easy-to-use testing center locator, for searching out the nearest STD testing center to your location.
- Teen Source
Teen Source was setup as an online resource for teen related issues by the California Family Health Council. The site caters to ages 13-24, though the information can be referenced by anyone. They have a texting service call “Hookup” which gives out weekly sex information and life advice. Teen Source also runs a video channel on youtube.
Incorporating participatory media practices into sexual health education fosters comments, critiques, and conversation about an otherwise taboo topic. Being able to participate in the conversation by instantly voicing reactions, additions, corrections, or offering empathy online plays a huge impact on youth compared to traditional avenues of information.