TitleInformation Age: Do Urban African-American Youth Find Sexual Health Information Online?
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsDolcini, MM, Warren, J, Towner, SL, Catania, JA, Harper, GW
JournalSexuality Research and Social Policy

The purpose of the present study was to understand the extent to which urban African-American youth access information via the Internet for a variety of sexual health topics and to identify the conditions under which they find sexual health information. African-American heterosexual youth (N = 81; 15–17 years) residing in low-income neighborhoods completed semi-structured interviews. Data on access to and use of the Internet for sexual health information were extracted, coded, and charted. Access to the Internet was widespread. Nearly half of the respondents had used the Internet for sexual health information; a variety of topics were covered (e.g., HIV/STIs; condoms; communication; relationships). Notably, many youth accessed information in the context of a sex education assignment or through advertisements on social network sites (SNSs). Universal use of the Internet has not led to widespread use of digital media for sexual health information. The Internet continues to be an underutilized resource, but our findings suggest several pathways through which youth may be reached with sexual health information online. We identify several testable hypotheses, which can be explored in larger quantitative studies and which will enhance our ability to develop effective strategies to reach youth with legitimate sexual health information online.