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African American Adolescents and New Media: Associations with HIV/STI Risk Behavior and Psychosocial Variables



OBJECTIVES: Cell phones and online media are used frequently but we know little about their use among African American adolescents. This study examines the frequency of such use and its relationship to psychosocial variables and STI/HIV risk behavior.

SETTING/PARTICIPANTS: 1,518 African American, aged 13-18 years, from 2 Northeast US cities (Providence, RI; Syracuse, NY) and 2 Southeast US cities (Columbia, SC; Macon, GA), were assessed from 2008-2009.

DESIGN: Participants were assessed on frequency of cell phone and Internet use, psychological constructs (ie, depression, life satisfaction, impulsivity) and HIV/STI risk behaviors (ie, history of intercourse, sexual sensation seeking attitudes, peer sexual risks norms) with reliable scales and measures using an audio computer-assisted self-interview.

RESULTS: Over 90% of African American adolescents used cell phones every day or most days and 60% used social networking sites every day or most days (96% used Myspace). Greater frequency of cell phone use was associated with sexual sensation seeking (P = .000), riskier peer sexual norms (P = .000), and impulsivity (P = .016). Greater frequency of Internet use was associated with a history of oral/vaginal/anal sex (OR = 1.03, CI = 1.0-1.05) and sexual sensation seeking (P = .000).

CONCLUSION: These findings suggest that riskier youth are online and using cell phones frequently. The Internet and cell phones may be useful platforms for targeted health promotion and prevention efforts with AA adolescents.


  • Larry K. Brown
  • Michael P. Carey
  • Ralph J.P. DiClemente
  • Daniel Romer
  • Laura F. Salazar
  • Rebecca R, Swenson
  • Peter A. Vanable
  • Robert F. Valois
  • Laura B. Whiteley