Sharing “Sex Secrets” on Facebook: A Content Analysis of Youth Peer Communication and Advice Exchange on Social Media about Sexual Health and Intimate Relations

Tien Ee Dominic YEO*, Tsz Hang Chu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
2 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Social media present opportunities and challenges for sexual health communication among young people. This study is one of the first to examine the actual use of Facebook for peer communication of sexual health and intimate relations. Content analysis of 2186 anonymous posts in a “sex secrets” Facebook page unofficially affiliated with a Hong Kong University shows gender balance among posters, inclusiveness of sexual minorities, and frequent sharing of personal experiences in storytelling or advice seeking. The findings illuminate young people’s health concerns regarding condom use, avoiding pain, birth control, sexually transmitted infections, and body appearance. Relational concerns found entailed sexual practices, expectations, and needs—predominantly within dating relationships and include not wanting to have sex. Supportive communication among users was prevalent. A majority of posts involved advice solicitation in the form of request for opinion or information (30.38%), request for advice (13.68%), situation comparison (5.40%), or problem disclosure (9.97%). Comments to the advice-seeking posts were mostly supportive (69.49%); nonsupportive responses (unsolicited messages and gratuitous humor) were concentrated with ambiguous advice solicitations. These findings hold implications for understanding self-disclosure of intimate concerns within social networks, and attuning sexual health intervention on social media to young people’s actual needs and advice preferences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)753-762
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Health Communication
Volume22
Issue number9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2 Sep 2017

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Communication
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Library and Information Sciences

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