Platforms and Patterns for Practice: LGBTQ+ Youths’ Use of Information and Communication Technologies
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LGBTQ+ (e.g., lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) youths’ engagement with information and communication technologies (ICTs) allows them to access social support, develop their identities, and increase their well-being in a context of relative safety. However, a significant knowledge gap remains regarding the patterns of LGBTQ+ youths’ use of ICTs, how ICT usage varies among LGBTQ+ sub-populations, as well as how LGBTQ+ youths’ usage compares to the general youth population. This article investigates the use of ICTs by a geographically diverse, cross-sectional survey sample (n = 6309) of LGBTQ+ youth (ages 14–29) from across the United States and Canada. The sample’s use of mobile and non-mobile digital devices, their time spent engaging online, and their participation on a wide variety of social media and other online platforms were studied. A comparison of participants’ experiences was also undertaken based upon their sociodemographic characteristics—particularly age, sexual orientation, gender identity, ethno-racial identity, community type, and socioeconomic status. Significant implications for contemporary social work practice with diverse LGBTQ+ youth populations and sub-populations by individual service providers and social service organizations are discussed.
KeywordsGender identity Sexual orientation Information and communication technologies Digital devices Social media use Sociodemographics
This study was funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (Grant #498466). We would like to acknowledge the participants for their contributions.
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