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Adolescents' activities online may contribute to risky sexual activity

Category: Sexually Transmitted Diseases

A recent Dutch study revealed that teenagers who engage in sexually-related online activities, like sending naked pictures or looking for sexual partners, are more likely to have casual sex, HealthDay News reported.

Study author Susanne Baumgartner, a graduate student at the University of Amsterdam, and her colleagues analyzed 1,700 Dutch adolescents who were between of the ages of 12 and 18. The results, which were published in the journal Pediatrics, also showed that subjects who were less satisfied with their lives and had lower education levels were more likely to seek pleasure and participate in risky online, sexual behavior.

Jeff Temple, Ph.D., a psychologist and assistant professor at the University of Texas, told HealthDay News that the difference between how people act online and their behaviors offline is slowly diminishing and healthcare providers should become increasingly aware of their patients' online behaviors. He also noted that parents should also be more conscious of the activities that their kids are participating in when it comes to "sexting," or sending sexual content via text messages.

Adolescent sexual participation
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), among the surveyed high school students, in 2011, 47.4 percent had sexual intercourse and 15.3 percent had sex with at least four different people. In 2009, an estimated 8,300 people between 13 and 24 years old had HIV, which can be detected with STD testing, and almost 50 percent of the 19 million STD cases reported are among people who were 15 to 24 years old.

The CDC notes that school programs can help teenagers avoid STDs and unintended pregnancies, and parents being involved in their childrens' lives can also help encourage sexual health among adolescents.

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