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Saturday, May 01, 2010

Facebook posts may reveal teens' sexual intentions

For researchers or health officials seeking to identify teenagers' sexual intentions, Facebook may be the place to look.

According to a new U.S. study, first-year university students who posted sexual "references" on the popular social-networking site were

 more likely to say they were seeking to become sexually active.

The American researchers studied 118 public Facebook profiles by users at the same state university.

Of that group, 85 students filled out surveys about their sexual intentions. About 55 per cent of the students were female, and two-thirds of them were Caucasian.

Researchers found that sexual activity was more common among those who had posted sexual references online.

"Facebook profiles may represent an innovative venue to identify adolescents considering sexual activity who may benefit from targeted prevention or education messages," the study concludes.

That could prove to be "a key opportunity to provide relevant education and prevention messages," the study says.

Teens who are sexually active run a greater risk of having an unwanted pregnancy or contracting sexually transmitted infections.

The lead researcher, Dr. Megan Morano, also led a 2007 study about teenagers' use of the social-networking site MySpace.

It found that 54 per cent of the 18-year-olds studied had posted information about "health risk behaviours" related to sex, substance abuse or violence on their MySpace profiles.

The 2007 study, which was published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, said that such information was less common among those who posted information about their religious beliefs or hobbies.


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