What are the positive and negative effects of the Internet on the development of sexual health among gay, lesbian, and bisexual (GLB) youth? How can it be used to promote positive sexual health? GLB youth experience significant sexual health disparities in terms of HIV and other Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), positive sexual and romantic relationships, and sexual self-acceptance. Emerging data suggest that important risk factors may be lack of support in the settings that traditionally promote positive youth development—such as schools, families, peers, and communities. Surveys show 93% of youth use the Internet and the majority of GLB youth “come out” online before doing so offline. Preliminary research suggests that the Internet may be the primary setting where GLB youth explore their identity; meet other youth for social and romantic relationships, and access resources related to sexual health, but that use of the Internet may also increase risks for some negative sexual health outcomes (e.g. HIV/STIs). Mustanski will use his William T. Grant Scholar award to: (1) conduct formative qualitative research on GLB youth use of the Internet and how it is linked to sexual health; (2) study daily patterns of Internet use and sexual health using an online daily diary; and (3) translate findings from the first two projects into the creation of evidence-informed online health promotion materials. Mustanski will conduct interviews with GLB youth ages 16–24 in the Chicago area, inquiring about their regular use of the Internet for social, romantic, sexual, and informational purposes. Specifically, these interviews will inquire about how, where, and when GLB youth use the Internet for these purposes and how it has helped and harmed their sexual health. Qualitative analyses will be conducted with the assistance of Atlas.Ti. Quantitative data on the prevalence of online behaviors and their link to sexual health will be collected using online daily diary reports of Internet use and aspects of sexual health. To account for the dependency in diary data, Hierarchical Linear Modeling (HLM) techniques will be utilized for analyses.
What are the positive and negative effects of the Internet on the development of sexual health among gay, lesbian, and bisexual (GLB) youth?