When searching on the internet for answers to teen sexual health questions, one can come across many websites that either don’t have teen friendly information or misinformation which can lead teens in the total wrong direction. A study conducted by researchers at the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital and Stanford School of Medicine found that the most trafficked health websites that come up in google search for “birth control”, “sexually transmitted disease” or “morning after pill,” do not provide the most up-to-date and accurate information.
For instance, these websites do not give the most up-to-date World Health Organization directions for taking Plan B (take both pills at the same time within 5 days of unprotected sex), inform readers that Plan B can be purchased over the counter at authorized pharmacies in 9 states, or dispel the myth that Plan B induces abortion. In addition, the websites do not dispel myths around weight gain from birth control, how specific STDs are transmitted, and when the recommended time to begin getting pap smears.
The researchers do however recommend these three accurate and teen friendly websites: Go Ask Alice, a question-and-answer service by Columbia University; the Center for Young Women’s Health from Children’s Hospital Boston; TeensHealth, a part of KidsHealth.org; and Teen Wire, a site for teens maintained by Planned Parenthood.
As hard as it is to find medically accurate and progressive information for sexual health on the internet, it’s encouraging that public health and medical professionals are working to correct the misinformation and dispel myths, so that teens can have a fighting chance to access good information and make healthy decisions.
By Robin Mangini, Research Intern