Planned Parenthood Federation of America recently launched nine interactive tools online to help teens make healthy decisions, which incorporate age-appropriate sex education. The tools help teens start conversations about sex and dating with their parents, tips to avoid risky sexual situations, and help them better plan their future.
Planned Parenthood Federation of America launched nine interactive, highly shareable mobile tools designed to help young people stay healthy and better plan for their futures. The tools bring together age-appropriate sex education with what teens like to do online; 74 percent of teens now have access to the Internet on their mobile devices. The tools can encourage teens to start conversations with their parents about topics related to dating and sex, and can help reinforce education at school and in the home.
“These kinds of tools are a critical part of the future of sex education,” said Leslie Kantor, PPFA vice president of education. “The tools supplement what young people are getting in schools and at home and were very successful with teens when we tested them. Teens spent more than four minutes on the tools compared to an average time of just over a minute on most apps.”
Studies show that when teens have the skills to avoid risky situations, have a clear set of goals for the future, and have good conversations with their parents about these topics, they wait longer to begin having sex and are more likely to use condoms and other birth control methods when they do become sexually active.
The tools are split into two age-appropriate categories, including one tool for all ages. The tools for younger teens encourage them to wait to have sex, teach skills necessary to avoid risky situations, and how to set goals for the future. The tools for older teens help them to set goals for the future, explore the benefits of consistently using both contraceptives and condoms in order to prevent both unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, and demonstrate ways to support a boyfriend or girlfriend in staying safe and healthy.
The tool for teens of all ages is:
- Awkward or Not?: This tool is designed to encourage teens to talk with their parents about dating and sex. Teens can take a quiz that allows them to explore their feelings about communicating with their parents and offers encouragement and tips to start talking.
Tools for younger teens include:
- What’s Your Love Personality? or Where Do You Stand?: This tool, designed separately for boys and girls, allows them to take a quiz that helps them to set clear intentions about waiting to have sex. It also encourages teens to make their own commitments about delaying sex. When kids set a clear intention to delay sex, they wait longer to have sex than teens without a clear intention.
- The Kickback: Having the skills to deal with risky situations is one of the key elements of both effective sex education and drug and alcohol education programs. This tool allows teens to view role-playing videos of effective responses to peer pressure to drink, use drugs, or have sex, and teens choose how they would handle similar real-life challenges and learn to give effective responses that help them avoid taking risks.
- What’s Your Plan: This tool helps teens identify long-term goals for their education, career, and family and then asks them to consider what impact having a child as a teen could have on those plans. It also gives teens an opportunity to set short-term goals to help them meet their long-term objectives.
Tools for older teens include:
- Fast Forward: Teens identify their long-term goals for their education, career, and family, consider what impact having a child as a teen could have on those plans, and set short-term goals to help move their plans forward.
- My Birth Control: Designed for young women, users answer a series of questions designed to identify what methods of birth control will best meet their needs. Users of this tool identify which aspects of a birth control method are most important to them and then are shown the various methods that meet the needs they have indicated.
- Been There. Done That.: Using video depicting real life situations, this tool encourages teens to set an intention to use both birth control and condoms when having sex. Using both methods is often referred to as “dual use,” and is critical to preventing both pregnancy and STDs.
- It Takes Two: Teens can view videos of other teens talking about the importance of using both condoms and birth control and deals with common myths that may lead to people discontinuing effective birth control methods. For young men, the videos emphasize supporting their partner in continuing with birth control and for both, the importance of using both condoms and birth control.
The tools are also an effective resource for educators, parents and all people who care about teens to help reinforce healthy behavior and responsible decision-making though an engaging and entertaining platform for teens as well as for parents and educators who want to engage teens in age-relevant ways. The tools can also be particularly effective for use in states that have high teen pregnancy and STD infection rates and lack access to comprehensive sex education and affordable, preventive health care.
All of the tools, developed with input from a prestigious national advisory board that included experts in adolescent development, effective health interventions, public health, and online games and digital entertainment, were rigorously tested and made available for beta-testing online. The tools were carefully designed to ensure that they would be appealing to and relevant for all youth, particularly African-American and Latino youth who experience higher rates of sexually transmitted diseases and unintended pregnancy.
Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest provider of sex education, offers resources, guidance, and effective programs for teens and parents. In 2012, Planned Parenthood provided educational programs to more than a million people of all ages, and every day, Planned Parenthood works in schools and communities across the country to provide comprehensive sex education programs.
Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With nearly 750 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions.