Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Adolescents learning about sex—broadband Internet access, sexual education, moral panics and youth citizenship
by Smith, Marshall David, Ph.D., University of Colorado at Boulder, 2011, 281; 3453789
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation examines the experiences of fifty-one young people who were adolescents as high-speed Internet access became widely available in the United States. The data are drawn from semi-structured, open-ended interviews with thirty-nine women and twelve men. Interviews covered topics related to sexual socialization. These included formal sexual education experiences in school, informal interactions with peers, early sexual experiences, and information from media. Sexual scripting theory frames both the data collection and data analysis of this research. While participants describe a wide and predictable variety of sources of sexual information including movies, television, books, magazines, family, friends, and personal experience, the majority reported the Internet served a central role in how they learned about sexuality. As the Internet is a relatively new source of information about sexuality, and one that has been minimally researched in this capacity, in my analysis I emphasize the role of the Internet in sexual socialization. Despite popular concerns around adolescent use of such technology, the majority of participants reported positive experiences with the Internet as a source of sexual information. Participants reported accessing sexually explicit material as well as accurate sexual information on the Internet. The Internet was described as a relatively safe and easy means of accessing sexual information specific to their concerns and readily available in the absence of other sources. I place the findings within the cultural context of moral panics regarding teen sexuality and technology as well as emergent theories and debates about citizenship in order to fully understand the key social and theoretical implications of the experiences of these young people.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Nielsen, Joyce, Mollborn, Stefanie
Commitee: Greaney, Patrick, Pampel, Fred, Reed, Isaac
School: University of Colorado at Boulder
Department: Sociology
School Location: United States -- Colorado
Source: DAI-A 72/07, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Individual & family studies, Health education, Information science
Keywords: Adolescence, Citizenship, Education, Internet, Moral panics, Sexuality
Publication Number: 3453789
ISBN: 978-1-124-62150-0
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