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Adolescents and the Internet: health and sexuality information

Gray, Nicola Ja; Klein, Jonathan Db

Current Opinion in Obstetrics and Gynecology: October 2006 - Volume 18 - Issue 5 - p 519–524
doi: 10.1097/01.gco.0000242954.32867.76
Adolescent and pediatric gynecology
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Purpose of review Adolescents are known to be frequent users of the Internet, but less is known about the frequency and nature of their searches for information about health and sexuality. In theory, the Internet offers adolescents unprecedented access to such information in a convenient and confidential way. In turn, this information may help them to seek medical care or advice. This article reviews new research relating to adolescents' uses of the Internet for health and sexuality information, including contextual adult population studies.

Recent findings Adolescents are using the Internet in order to find health information on a range of subjects. Search engines are the primary strategy for such searches. The quality of the online experience is often limited by health/online literacy skills. The only reference to adolescents' quests for online information about sexuality was that they frequently sought this information from a Web site created primarily to provide information about sexually transmitted diseases.

Summary Empirical research with adolescents on this subject is scarce. More research is needed regarding issues such as the impact of software filters on ability to access health information and the medium's potential to help and harm adolescents.

aLecturer in Pharmacy Practice, Centre for Pharmacy, Health and Society, School of Pharmacy, University of Nottingham, England, UK

bAssociate Professor of Pediatrics and of Community and Preventive Medicine, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, Rochester, New York, USA

Correspondence to Nicola J. Gray, PhD, Centre for Pharmacy, Health and Society, School of Pharmacy, University of Nottingham, University Park, Nottingham NG7 2RD, England, UK Tel: +44 115 846 6248; fax: +44 115 846 6249; e-mail: nicola.gray@nottingham.ac.uk

© 2006 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.