Let's Talk about Sext: How Adolescents Seek Support and Advice about Their Online Sexual Experiences
We conducted a thematic content analysis of 4,180 posts by adolescents (ages 12-17) on an online peer support mental health forum to understand what and how adolescents talk about their online sexual interactions. Youth used the platform to seek support (83%), connect with others (15%), and give advice (5%) about sexting, their sexual orientation, sexual abuse, and explicit content. Females often received unwanted nudes from strangers and struggled with how to turn down sexting requests from people they knew. Meanwhile, others who sought support complained that they received unwanted sexual solicitations while doing so—to the point that adolescents gave advice to one another on which users to stay away from. Our research provides insight into the online sexual experiences of adolescents and how they seek support around these issues. We discuss how to design peer-based social media platforms to support the well-being and safety of youth.