Sexuality and Disability

, Volume 33, Issue 4, pp 533–544 | Cite as

“T@ngled Up in Blue”: Views of Parents and Professionals on Internet Use for Sexual Purposes Among Young People with Intellectual Disabilities

  • Lotta Löfgren-Mårtenson
  • Emma Sorbring
  • Martin Molin
Original Paper


This study aim to examine parents’ and professionals’ views on the usage of Internet for love and sexual purposes among young people with intellectual disabilities (18–20 years) in Sweden. Five semi-structured focus group interviews were conducted with professionals (n = 8) working on special programmes in upper secondary schools and with parents (n = 5). The interviews were analysed with thematic analysis and the theory of sexual scripts were guiding the process. The results show that the Internet is seen as a social arena with complex challenges; for love and sexuality, for sexual conduct, and for sexual risk and opportunities. Young people with intellectual disabilities are looked upon as more vulnerable than other youth. However, the result also show that parents view the risk of their adolescent of being lonely as greater than the risk of being abused or mislead. A Net-script consisting of rules is geared towards the young people with intellectual disability. Nevertheless, a change to a more flexible and nuanced Net-script is shown while the group of young persons with intellectual disabilities are seen as more heterogeneous than earlier. In-depth knowledge about parents’ and professionals’ perspectives on the Internet and sexuality is important since the young people live in a dependency situation towards their surroundings. In addition, the surroundings’ attitudes and behaviour are essential for the young peoples’ access of support and opportunities to develop their own capacity and to experience love and sexuality.


Intellectual disability Internet Sexuality Parents Professionals Sweden 



The authors would like to thank the parents and the professionals for participating in this study.


This study has been funded by internal university financed research time, and with funding from Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare (FORTE), project no. 2014-0398.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lotta Löfgren-Mårtenson
    • 1
  • Emma Sorbring
    • 2
  • Martin Molin
    • 2
  1. 1.Centre for Sexology and Sexuality StudiesMalmö UniversityMalmöSweden
  2. 2.Centre for Child and Youth StudiesUniversity WestTrollhättanSweden

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