Resource and Risk: Youth Sexuality and New Media Use

Abstract

Some contemporary moral panics orbit around youth sexuality and new media use. This article addresses those moral panics by investigating teenagers’ practices regarding new media and sexuality. New media technologies are central parts of young people’s social, romantic, and sexual lives. These communication technologies are important in their practices of meeting, dating, and breaking up. New media technologies also provide important resources about sexual health and identities. However, these informational and relational resources are not equally available to all young people. Indeed use and access to new media technologies often mirrors the contemporary ordering of economic, racialized, and gendered power. Additionally, while youth are aware of online safety practices, some youth are more vulnerable to online risks than others.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    MSN is an instant messaging service.

  2. 2.

    Between 2004 and 2008, the percentage of teens who said they use email declined from 89% to 73% (Jones and Fox 2009).

  3. 3.

    While youth have largely moved to Facebook from MySpace, when youth were on MySpace, one’s location in another’s “top eight” friends signified the importance and seriousness of their friendship or romantic relationship.

  4. 4.

    These policies recently changed under the administration of Barack Obama. Government funding is no longer limited to those programs which promote abstinence (Rabin 2010).

  5. 5.

    The BrdsNBz Text Message Warm Line can be found here: http://appcnc.org/brdsnbz-text-message-warm-line.

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Acknowledgments

This research was funded by the Catherine T. and John D. MacArthur Foundation. The author acknowledges the generous assistance of Sara Diefendorf, Christo Sims, and two anonymous reviewers for their contribution to this manuscript.

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Correspondence to C. J. Pascoe.

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This article is drawn from the keynote lecture Encouraging Sexual Literacy in a Digital Age: Teens, Sexuality and New Media given at The Virtual Sex Ed: Youth, Race, Sex and New Media Conference at the University of Chicago, June 4th, 2009.

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Pascoe, C.J. Resource and Risk: Youth Sexuality and New Media Use. Sex Res Soc Policy 8, 5–17 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13178-011-0042-5

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Keywords

  • Youth
  • Sexuality
  • Technology
  • New media
  • Adolescence
  • Gender