UN/FILTERED: SEXUALITY IN THE CONNECTED AGE

With dating apps, sexting, user-generated media, sex toys powered by artificial intelligence, viral memes, pornography, virtual reality, and so much more, technology is baked into sexuality itself…and vice versa.

We cannot disconnect sexuality and technology because we live in an era of ubiquitous smartphone access that makes information and services more accessible, more connected. With just a tap of the screen, we can switch platforms, express a different identity, swipe to discard or confirm a potential sexual rendezvous, and join a new community. Just as we do in non-virtual spaces, we filter what we choose to share (if we share) and create the content and identity that fits the space.

With this space to flex our identities and access information, social norms are also expanding. Technology is changing our beliefs and our behaviors, and that includes our beliefs about sexuality and our sexual behaviors. So much of our life happens online—hook-ups (relationships) start online, conversations about consent start with emojis, and break-ups happen via text—which means we’re also susceptible to ghosting, phishing, catfishing, hacking, and more.

What does this mean for adolescents and young adults? What does this mean for how we do our work? How do we equip young people to develop healthy sexualities and have pleasurable sexual lives in the connected age? How do we support and empower young people to navigate sex, sexuality, and relationships online?

We’ll explore these questions and more at the 41st annual Healthy Teen Network conference. As professionals, we cannot only react to technology’s connection to young people’s sexuality; we must be proactive in leveraging technology to meet the sexual health needs relevant in real life. Join us in online, November 16-18, 2020 for Un/Filtered: Sexuality in the Connected Age.

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