On Friday January 19th TPPP members gathered for the first 2018 Professional Development event, Technology Trends & Tools. This event was held at the Thomas Dunn Learning Center (3113 Gasconade Street St Louis, MO 63118) which will be the location for all bi-monthly professional development events in 2018.
Technology Trends & Tools was facilitated by Meg Boyko, and featured a webinar from Answer, a Rutgers agency which provides information about teen health and sexuality in a variety of media forms. Answer’s award-winning website and magazine Sex, Etc. is created by teens for teens. Their website features a state by state breakdown of laws regarding adolescent sexuality, FAQ where teens answer submitted questions, trivia games to test your knowledge on birth control methods, and more.
Attendees discussed how digital media affects young adults and teens in relation to the National Sexuality Education Standards. Some of the pros of digital media included; easily accessed sexuality information through internet access, LGBTQIAA students being able to reach out and find community through technology, and facts about birth control methods being readily available. Cons discussed were; the rise in cyber bullying, body negativity based on impossible beauty standards featured on venues such as Instagram, and the possibility of young people not being capable of distinguishing medically-accurate websites from non-evidence-based (or even misleading) websites.
Technology trends were shared throughout the event, including data on what mobile apps teens are using most often. The most popular app in 2017 among young people ages 12 to 24, with a 79% use rate, was Snapchat. This was followed closely by Facebook at 76% and Instagram at 73%. Attendees broke into small groups and explored other apps including WhatsApp, Omegle, and Musical.ly. The groups considered the possible benefits and drawbacks of each of these apps for teens.
Apps can also be used for sexual health and personal safety. Attendees looked at the Bedsider Birth Control App, Eve, and Circle of Six and considered their features and utility. Several attendees noted that the Bedsider Birth Control App and Eve featured gendered language that may not be inclusive to all users. An alternative, which does not appear gendered in its design or language, is Clue.
TPPP members and partners are also encouraged to explore sexual health resource websites and evaluate them for quality of information. Three suggestions for further exploration are Amaze, Common Sense Media, and Planned Parenthood. Attendees contributed other ideas for resource websites, including Scarleteen which features a Sex and Disability section, and Adventures in Sex City which is a game for young adults to build knowledge in a fun interactive way.