Even though Lets talk month ended in October, it’s good to remember that NOW is the best time to talk to your teens about reproductive health. Studies show that teens who report having good conversations with their parents about sex wait longer to begin having sex and are more likely to use condoms and other birth control methods when they do become sexually active.
A recent survey found that teens are much less comfortable talking to their parents about topics related to sex than parents are talking with their teens. Half of parents reported being very comfortable talking with their teen son or daughter about sexuality, while only 18 percent of teens reported being very comfortable talking with their parent.
In an effort to make these topics more accessible, Planned Parenthood has created mobile tools for teens and parents to use in starting a conversation.
Overview of Tools
The tools are split into age-appropriate categories, including one tool that is appropriate for all ages. The tools for younger teens encourage them to wait to have sex until they are older, teach skills necessary to avoid risky situations, and invite young people to set personal goals for the future. The tools for older teens explore the benefits of consistently using contraceptives and condoms in order to prevent unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections and are based on decision-making science and research on what causes people to discontinue birth control.
Tools for Younger Teens
- “What’s Your Love Personality?” or “Where Do You Stand?”: This tool, designed separately for teen boys and teen girls, allows them to take quizzes and explore their beliefs about when it is appropriate to have sex and 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 an intention to delay sex, research shows they often stick to their plans.
- “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 avoid risky situations and then choose how they would handle similar real-life challenges.
- “What’s Your Plan”: This tool can help teens identify their long-term goals for the future by asking them to consider what impact having a child as a teen could have on those plans, without stigmatizing or shaming the choice to become a teen parent. It also gives teens an opportunity to set short-term goals to help them meet their long-term objectives.
Tools for Older Teens (who are more likely to be starting to make decisions related to sexual activity):
- “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 use both birth control and condoms when having sex. Using both methods is often referred to as “dual use,” and is being practiced more by young people in the U.S.
- ‘It Takes Two”: Teens can view videos of other teens talking candidly about the importance of using both condoms and birth control. For young men, the videos also emphasize supporting your partner in continuing with birth control and for both, the importance of using both condoms and birth control.
- “Awkward or Not?”: This tool is designed to help young people feel more comfortable talking with their parents about sexuality. Teens can take a quiz on their mobile device or computer that allows them to explore their feelings about communicating with their parents and offers encouragement and tips to start talking. “Fast Forward”: Teens identify their plans for the future, 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.