Teens who have smartphones may by more likely to engaged in risky sexual behavior, a new study suggests. Teens who participated in the study were more than twice as likely to have sex with a person they’d met online when they used their smartphone for internet access.
Teens with smartphones were also more likely to be “sexually active in general, and more likely to say they had been approached for sex online.” The study showed that, regardless of age, gender, race, and sexual orientation, teens who had smartphones were still more likely to be sexually active.
While teens with smartphones are more likely to have sex – and meet others online for sex – than teens without internet access on their phones, it’s not clear whether or not smartphone use actually “influences teenagers’ sexual activity.” Regardless of which came first, a penchant for sexual activity or smartphone use, one thing is certain: the smartphone is one of the tools that “risk-taking teens are going to use to take risks.”
Study co-author Eric Rice, assistant professor at Los Angeles’ School of Social Work at the University of Southern California, thinks there’s “definitely a connection” between having the phones and having sex.
Of the students surveyed, 47 percent of those with smartphones – that is, phones with internet access – said they were sexually active. Only 35 percent of teens who didn’t own smartphones said they were sexually active. Rice also said that 17 percent of the smartphone users said they had had sex with someone they met online, compared to 14 percent of kids without smartphones.
Although smartphones have the benefit of helping parents keep track of their children, they also allow teens unsupervised, often unlimited, access to the internet. “You can get online relatively unsupervised and look for sex partners or have sex partners look for you,” Rice said.
Readers: Do you think that smartphones are making teens more likely to have sex? Or are smartphones just another tool teens who are already sexually active can use to meet more people?