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• Strong evidence suggests that approaches to sex education that include information about both contraception and abstinence help young people to delay sex, and also to have healthy relationships and avoid STDs and unintended pregnancies when they do become sexually active.
Many of these programs have resulted in delayed sexual debut, reduced frequency of sex and number of sexual partners, increased condom or contraceptive use, or reduced sexual risk-taking.
Digital media offer opportunities for youth to confidentially search for information on sensitive topics, and thus are a likely source of sexual health information for young people.
• In 2010, 19% of heterosexual youth, 40% of questioning youth, 65% of bisexual youth and 78% of lesbian/gay/queer youth aged 13–18 reported that they had used the Internet to look up sexual health information in the past year.
• Between 2006–20–2013, there were significant declines in adolescent females’ reports of having received formal instruction about birth control, STDs, HIV and AIDs, and saying no to sex.
There was also a significant decline in adolescent males’ reports of having received formal instruction about birth control.
• “Formal” sexual health education is instruction that generally takes place in a structured setting, such as a school, youth center, church or other community-based location.
This type of instruction is a central source of information for adolescents.
In 2013–2015, 18% of all adolescents aged 15–17 and 12% of young adults aged 18–19 covered by their parents’ insurance reported that they would not seek sexual or reproductive health care because of concerns that their parents might find out.
Here we consider the role of parents, health care providers and digital media as potential sources of sexual health information for adolescents.