The influence of information and communication technologies on adolescent sexual perceptions and beliefs
MetadataShow full item record
South African adolescents are engaging in sexual activities at an early age and with numerous sexual partners. Various factors such as adolescent physiology, identity development, peer influences and parent-child relationship, play a contributory role in this aspect. However, one of the less explored factors is the role of exposure to information and communication technologies containing sexual content, such as television, internet, music videos and cell phones. Adolescents have been shown to be heavy consumers of these devices. The study aimed at exploring the extent with which sexual content from these digital devices influences adolescents’ sexual perceptions and sexual behaviours. Participants comprised of 18 Grade 10 and Grade 11 learners, between ages 14 to 16 years, conveniently selected from one of the high schools in the Cape Peninsula. Two focus groups were conducted with an equal distribution of males and females in each group. Thematic analysis was utilized to describe participants’ experiences as reported in the text. Results indicated that participants regard ICT as influencing sexual attitudes and behaviour. More specifically, they believed ICT contributes greatly to early sexual initiation. Whilst some participants suggested that ICT encourages them to have many sexual partners with a “certain” physical image, some participants regarded this as irrelevant, viewing it as an individual’s choice. It was also found that participants viewed ICT’s unsafe sexual practices as not impacting in their use of contraceptives, hence they would not imitate such behaviour. Moreover, some participants viewed ICT as impacting on the manner in which they express themselves sexually, whilst others regarded this as untrue since they decide which sexual activities to engage in. The study addressed paucity of information regarding ICT and adolescent sexuality. To be more specific, it is recommended that future investigations should focus on a particular technology such as cell phones and the internet. Research should also focus on a specific domain regarding adolescent sexual attitudes, for example attitudes towards sexual initiation or the use of contraceptives.