Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 37, Issue 2, pp 113–126

“Always Use Protection”: Communication Boys Receive About Sex From Parents, Peers, and the Media

Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s10964-007-9187-1

Cite this article as:
Epstein, M. & Ward, L.M. J Youth Adolescence (2008) 37: 113. doi:10.1007/s10964-007-9187-1


Although parents are often thought to be the primary communicators of sexual information, studies have found that many adolescent boys report receiving little or no parental communication about sex. Instead, boys report learning about sex mostly from their peers and the media. However, little is known about the content of these communications, from any source. Using a sample of 286 male undergraduates, this study employed a mixed-method approach to examine the amount and content of sex-related communication boys received from their parents, peers, and the media. Results indicated that adolescent boys report receiving less sexual communication from their parents than from peers and the media. In terms of content, parental messages focused on abstinence and contraception while peer and media messages were significantly more sex-positive. Analyses of ethnic group variation showed that African American adolescents reported receiving the most parental communication and Asian American boys reported the least, with further variability in the content of the messages. Findings also document considerable diversity of message content, both within and across source, highlighting the utility of comparative and multi-method approaches.


Sexual socialization Adolescents Parental communication Peer communication Media influence 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Combined Program in Education and PsychologyUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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