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01-05-2015 | Empirical Research | Uitgave 5/2015

Journal of Youth and Adolescence 5/2015

Exploring Associations Between Exposure to Sexy Online Self-Presentations and Adolescents’ Sexual Attitudes and Behavior

Tijdschrift:
Journal of Youth and Adolescence > Uitgave 5/2015
Auteurs:
Johanna M. F. van Oosten, Jochen Peter, Inge Boot

Abstract

Previous research suggests that adolescents’ social network site use is related to their sexual development. However, the associations between adolescents’ exposure to sexy self-presentations of others on social network sites and their sexual attitudes and experience have not yet been empirically supported. This study investigated reciprocal longitudinal relationships between adolescents’ exposure to others’ sexy self-presentations on social network sites and their sexual attitudes (i.e., sexual objectification of girls and instrumental attitudes towards sex) and sexual experience. We further tested whether these associations depended on adolescents’ age and gender. Results from a representative two-wave panel study among 1,636 Dutch adolescents (aged 13–17, 51.5 % female) showed that exposure to sexy online self-presentations of others predicted changes in adolescents’ experience with oral sex and intercourse 6 months later, but did not influence their sexual attitudes. Adolescents’ instrumental attitudes towards sex, in turn, did predict their exposure to others’ sexy online self-presentations. Sexual objectification increased such exposure for younger adolescents, but decreased exposure for older adolescents. In addition, adolescents’ experience with genital touching as well as oral sex (only for adolescents aged 13–15) predicted their exposure to sexy self-presentations of others. These findings tentatively suggest that the influence on adolescents’ sexual attitudes previously found for sexual media content may not hold for sexy self-presentations on social network sites. However, exposure to sexy self-presentations on social network sites is motivated by adolescents’ sexual attitudes and behavior, especially among young adolescents.

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