iRT scientists, Drs. Tracy Scull, Christina Dodson, and Reina Evans-Paulson, presented a symposium entitled, Promoting Adolescent Sexual Health In The Digital Age Through Media Literacy And Sexual Communication, at the most recent Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality (SSSS) Conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico, in November 2021.

Their symposium featured a review of research on the relationship between media and adolescent sexuality as well as the benefits of media literacy education on adolescent sexual and relationship health. They were joined in the symposium by co-authors Dr. Laura Widman and Hannah Javidi from the Teen Health Lab at NC State University, Anne J. Maheux and Dr. Sophia Choukas-Bradley, from University of Delaware, and Dr. Jacqueline Nesi, from Brown University.

The first talk in the symposium highlighted the need for research on parent-child communication about digital sexual behaviors. The second talk reviewed immediate and short-term effects of the Media Aware program, expanding on the feasibility study that was conducted and published in the Journal of Health Communication in 2021. The third talk discussed the longer-term impact of the Media Aware Parent program as an extension of the work evaluating the short-term impact of the program.

The SSSS annual conference helps promote sexual and relationship health across the lifespan. This year, presenters and attendees emphasized the importance of intervention accessibility, cultural appropriateness, and a comprehensive approach to promoting sexual well-being moving beyond just risk prevention.

“One of my favorite things about SSSS is talking with sex educators working in middle and high schools about current research on strategies to promote adolescent sexual health,” said Dr. Evans-Paulson. “They have such a valuable perspective on this work. I appreciate the opportunity to use their feedback to ensure our research is applicable, relevant, and useful to adolescents and the adults they look to for support.”