The interplay between online and offline explorations of identity, relationships, and sex: A mixed-methods study with LGBT youth

Samantha Dehaan, Laura E. Kuper, Joshua C. Magee, Lou Bigelow, Brian S. Mustanski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

84 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Although the Internet is commonly used by lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth to explore aspects of sexual health, little is known about how this usage relates to offline explorations and experiences. This study used a mixed-methods approach to investigate the interplay between online and offline explorations of multiple dimensions of sexual health, which include sexually transmitted infections, sexual identities, romantic relationships, and sexual behaviors. A diverse community sample of 32 LGBT youth (ages 16-24) completed semi-structured interviews, which were transcribed and then qualitatively coded to identify themes. Results indicated that, although many participants evaluated online sexual health resources with caution, they frequently used the Internet to compensate for perceived limitations in offline resources and relationships. Some participants turned to the Internet to find friends and romantic partners, citing the relative difficulty of establishing offline contact with LGBT peers. Further, participants perceived the Internet as an efficient way to discover offline LGBT events and services relevant to sexual health. These results suggest that LGBT youth are motivated to fill gaps in their offline sexual health resources (e.g., books and personal communications) with online information. The Internet is a setting that can be harnessed to provide support for the successful development of sexual health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)421-434
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Sex Research
Volume50
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2013

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Transgender Persons
Internet
health
Reproductive Health
resources
Health Resources
Sexual Minorities
Bisexual
Lesbian
Sexual Health
Mixed Methods
communications
World Wide Web
contact
event
interview
community
Resources

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Psychology(all)
  • History and Philosophy of Science

Cite this

The interplay between online and offline explorations of identity, relationships, and sex : A mixed-methods study with LGBT youth. / Dehaan, Samantha; Kuper, Laura E.; Magee, Joshua C.; Bigelow, Lou; Mustanski, Brian S.

In: Journal of Sex Research, Vol. 50, No. 5, 01.07.2013, p. 421-434.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Dehaan, Samantha ; Kuper, Laura E. ; Magee, Joshua C. ; Bigelow, Lou ; Mustanski, Brian S. / The interplay between online and offline explorations of identity, relationships, and sex : A mixed-methods study with LGBT youth. In: Journal of Sex Research. 2013 ; Vol. 50, No. 5. pp. 421-434.
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