WITH dating apps, sexting and online porn available at their fingertips, young people are increasingly turning to the internet for advice on sexual health, but it’s not always a healthy experience, says youth coordinator Lorna Graham-Geraghty.
“Next to female friends, the internet is the number one place where young people are turning to for information about sexual health … but [we] acknowledge it is not necessarily a source that you can trust,” Ms Graham-Geraghty says.
She works for the Northbridge-based Youth Advisory Council WA’s Youth Educating Peers Project, which is organising a technosexual summit at The Boulevard in Floreat this November.
The summit will address the role of technology and online social media on relationships, sexuality, sexual health and blood borne virus issues.
It’s aimed at giving youth workers, counsellors and government representatives the skills to provide more targeted support to young people.
“The ultimate goal is that the young people will be empowered to…engage in sexual behaviours in the digital and online space in a more responsive and informed way,” Ms Graham-Geraghty said.
She says young people need to be encouraged to give digital contact the same consideration as face-to-face friendships.
”It’s important that the work that we are doing is not trying to demonise [online or digital sexual behaviours].”
Instagram is the go-to app among metro youngsters, followed by Facebook; while TikTok is popular among the younger ages. In the Pilbara, Snapchat is more frequently used.
Ms Graham-Geraghty says young people deserve more credit for their online sexual behaviour and awareness of the issues.
She says young people sending nude selfies is mostly part of a long-term, committed relationship and it isn’t as common as believed, while research shows kids are holding off having sex longer than their parents.
Among the topics covered at the summit will be young people’s legal rights, consent and pleasure, porn, social media, safe sexting and the needs of people from the disability space.
The 2019 Youth Sector Summit: Technosexual will be held on 12 November at 8am-5pm, by the YACWA Youth Educating Peers Project at The Boulevard, Floreat. Tickets are available via Eventbrite.
by ALEX MURFETT