Talking about sexual education comes with several do’s and don’t's but with so many teenagers bursting with questions about things they're unsure of, and the pressure especially on girls at this age, it makes sense to have an app tailored to them about sexual health and their choices.
Researchers have done just that, sharing in the Journal of Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology that they believe the app, Girl Talk, will help give young women the guidance they need when looking for sexual advice and information privately, with just the tap of a finger. A potential new tool in the fight against unwanted teen pregnancy.
“There are recommendations from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists that girls come in for a talk with their doctors between the ages of 13 and 15, but that rarely ever happens,” lead author Lynae Brayboy from Warren Alpert Medical School at Brown University said in a statement.
“Doctors rarely see girls early unless they are having a problem. As a result, girls never receive anticipatory guidance — information before an event occurs. They are left on their own and, when there’s a bad outcome, they are blamed. I thought that was completely unfair.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2013, 18 percent of babies – one in five – born to teenage mothers were actually their second or third child.
Although teenage pregnancies in the United States today are at an all-time low due to an increased awareness of and access to contraception, there are still over 200,00 girls aged between 15 and 19 giving birth each year, and this is likely to go back up, so the Girl Talk app might turn out to be quite useful.
What makes Girl Talk a perfect tool for young women is the content, which has different guiding principles. This includes professional sexual health information, visually appealing graphics, compatibility with iPhones, and age-appropriate material.
In the study, the researchers ran a test with 39 girls aged 12-17 to see if they would want actually want to use the sexual health app, getting them to experiment with it during a weekend. In the first part of the study, 22 girls were given a sexual health questionnaire to complete afterwards, In the second phase, 17 girls used the app on their phones for two weeks, and filled out sexual health questionnaires both before and after using the app.
Their results showed that their demonstrated knowledge of sexual health improved slightly after using the app, and the girls themselves said they found the app useful and would recommend it to their friends. They concluded that Girl Talk was useful for sexual education in comparison to previous methods.
“We found that a smartphone application is a feasible sexual health educational tool that is appealing to teenage girls,” Brayboy said. "In fact, our participants recommended the application as a valuable resource to learn about comprehensive sexual health."