Online partner seeking is associated with sexual risk behavior among young adults (specifically men who have sex with men), but this association has yet to be explored among a probability sample of adolescents. Moreover, cell phone internet access and sexual risk taking online and offline have not been explored. A probability sample (N = 1,831) of Los Angeles Unified School District high school students was collected in 2011. Logistic regression models assessed relationships between specific sexual risk behaviors (online sexual solicitation, seeking partners online, sex with internet-met partners, condom use) and frequency of internet use, internet access points, and demographics. Students with cell phone internet access were more likely to report being solicited online for sex, being sexually active, and having sex with an internet-met partner. Bisexual-identifying students reported higher rates of being approached online for sex, being sexually active, and not using condoms at last sex. Gay, lesbian, and questioning (GLQ) students were more likely to report online partner seeking and unprotected sex at last sex with an internet-met partner. Additionally, having sex with an internet-met partner was associated with being male, online sexual solicitation, and online partner seeking. Internet- and school-based sexual health programs should incorporate safety messages regarding online sexual solicitation, seeking sex partners online, and engaging in safer sex practices with all partners. Programs must target adolescents of all sexual identities, as adolescents may not yet be “out,” and bisexual and GLQ adolescents are more likely to engage in risky sex behaviors.
Adolescents Sexual risk behavior Internet Cell phone Online partner seeking Online sexual solicitation
Data collection was supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (award 5U87DP001201-04).
Bauermeister, J. A., Leslie-Santana, M., Johns, M. M., Pingel, E., & Eisenberg, A. (2011). Mr. Right and Mr. Right Now: Romantic and casual partner-seeking online among young men who have sex with men. AIDS and Behavior,15, 261–272.PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
Baumgartner, S. E., Sumter, S. R., Peter, J., & Valkenburg, P. M. (2012). Identifying teens at risk: Developmental pathways of online and offline sexual risk behavior. Pediatrics,130(6), e1489–e1496.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
Benotsch, E. G., Kalichman, S., & Cage, M. (2002). Men who have met sex partners via the Internet: Prevalence, predictors, and implications for HIV prevention. Archives of Sexual Behavior,31, 177–183.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
Bolding, G., Davis, M., Hart, G., Sherr, L., & Elford, J. (2007). Where young MSM meet their first sexual partner: The role of the Internet. AIDS and Behavior,11, 522–526.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
Bull, S. S., & McFarlane, M. (2000). Soliciting sex on the Internet: What are the risks for sexually transmitted diseases and HIV? Sexually Transmitted Diseases,27, 545–550.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2011). Youth online: High school YRBS: Los Angeles, CA 2011 and United States 2011 results.Google Scholar
Daneback, K., Månsson, S. A., & Ross, M. (2007). Using the Internet to find offline sex partners. Cyber Psychology and Behavior,10, 100–107.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Garofalo, R., Herrick, A., Mustanski, B. S., & Donenberg, G. R. (2007). Tip of the iceberg: Young men who have sex with men, the Internet, and HIV risk. American Journal of Public Health,97, 1113–1117.PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
Harvey, K. J., Brown, B., Crawford, P., Macfarlane, A., & McPherson, A. (2007). ‘Am I normal?’ Teenagers, sexual health and the internet. Social Science and Medicine,65, 771–781.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
Horvath, K. J., Rosser, B., & Remafedi, G. (2008). Sexual risk taking among young internet-using men who have sex with men. American Journal of Public Health,98, 1059–1067.PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
Kanuga, M., & Rosenfeld, W. D. (2004). Adolescent sexuality and the internet: The good, the bad, and the URL. Journal of Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology,17, 117–124.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
Lenhart, A., Ling, R., Campbell, S., & Purcell, K. (2010). Teens and mobile phones: Text messaging explodes as teens embrace it as the centerpiece of their communication strategies with friends. Retrieved from Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project website: http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2010/Teens-and-Mobile-Phones.aspx.
McFarlane, M., Bull, S. S., & Rietmeijer, C. A. (2002). Young adults on the internet: Risk behaviors for sexually transmitted diseases and HIV. Journal of Adolescent Health,31, 11–16.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
McKirnan, D., Houston, E., & Tolou-Shams, M. (2007). Is the web the culprit? Cognitive escape and Internet sexual risk among gay and bisexual men. AIDS and Behavior,11, 151–160.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
Mitchell, K. J., Finkelhor, D., & Wolak, J. (2001). Risk factors for and impact of online sexual solicitation of youth. Journal of the American Medical Association,285, 3011–3014.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
Mitchell, K. J., Finkelhor, D., & Wolak, J. (2007a). Online requests for sexual pictures from youth: Risk factors and incident characteristics. Journal of Adolescent Health,41, 196–203.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
Mitchell, K. J., Finkelhor, D., & Wolak, J. (2007b). Youth Internet users at risk for the most serious online sexual solicitations. American Journal of Preventive Medicine,32, 532–537.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
Mitchell, K. J., Wolak, J., & Finkelhor, D. (2007c). Trends in youth reports of sexual solicitations, harassment and unwanted exposure to pornography on the Internet. Journal of Adolescent Health,40, 116–126.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
Mitchell, K. J., & Ybarra, M. L. (2007). Online behavior of youth who engage in self-harm provides clues for preventive intervention. Preventive Medicine,45, 392–396.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
Pascoe, C. (2011). Resource and risk: Youth sexuality and new media use. Sexuality Research and Social Policy,8, 5–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Rice, E., Rhoades, H., Winetrobe, H., Sanchez, M., Montoya, J., Plant, A., et al. (2012). Sexually explicit cell phone messaging associated with sexual risk among adolescents. Pediatrics,130, 667–673.PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
Rietmeijer, C. A., Bull, S. S., McFarlane, M., Patnaik, J. L., & Douglas, J. M, Jr. (2003). Risks and benefits of the internet for populations at risk for sexually transmitted infections (STIs): Results of an STI clinic survey. Sexually Transmitted Diseases,30, 15–19.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
Subrahmanyam, K., & Greenfield, P. (2008). Online communication and adolescent relationships. The Future of Children,18, 119–146.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
Suzuki, L. K., & Calzo, J. P. (2004). The search for peer advice in cyberspace: An examination of online teen bulletin boards about health and sexuality. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology,25, 685–698.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
The Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University. (2008). Enhancing child safety and online technologies: Final report of the internet safety technical task force to the multi-state working group on social networking of State Attorneys General of the United States. Retrieved from The Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University website: http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/pubrelease/isttf.
Wells, M., & Mitchell, K. J. (2008). How do high-risk youth use the Internet? Characteristics and implications for prevention. Child Maltreatment,13, 227–234.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
Wolak, J., Finkelhor, D., Mitchell, K. J., & Ybarra, M. L. (2008). Online ‘predators’ and their victims: Myths, realities, and implications for prevention and treatment. American Psychologist,63, 111–128.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
Wolak, J., Mitchell, K. J., & Finkelhor, D. (2002). Close online relationships in a national sample of adolescents. Adolescence,37, 441–455.PubMedGoogle Scholar
Ybarra, M. L., & Mitchell, K. J. (2008). How risky are social networking sites? A comparison of places online where youth sexual solicitation and harassment occurs. Pediatrics,121, e350–e357.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
Young, S. D., & Rice, E. (2011). Online social networking technologies, HIV knowledge, and sexual risk and testing behaviors among homeless youth. AIDS and Behavior,15, 253–260.PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar