• Clodagh Meaney

Sexual Health Centre launches campaign aimed at helping teens navigate online sexual health

Screen-age Kicks helps parents and teens navigate online relationships including porn, sexting and consent

By Clodagh Meaney

Teenagers are growing up in a virtual world, and technology has become an integral part of their education, communication and relationships. This is a reality that the Sexual Health Centre in Cork has embraced.

The Centre have launched a campaign, Screen-age Kicks, to raise awareness surrounding issues that teens may come up against online during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Digital and social media has opened up a world of opportunity for young people by enabling them to stay informed and connected, more than any generation before them,” noted the Centre’s manager, Catherine Kennedy.

“As much of the virtual world is difficult to regulate, it is important that young people are given unbiased, up to date information regarding the relationships and behaviours that they encounter, and engage in, online."

“The ‘Screen-age Kicks’ guide was inspired by the National Youth Council of Ireland’s 2016 report on the ‘Screenagers’ international research project, which included consultations with young people regarding their experiences of social and digital media in the youth work setting," Catherine Kennedy explained.

“While young people today experience the very same curiosity and self-exploration as their parents did as teens, this period of discovery has now been moved to the online world."

“The rate at which technology has grown in recent years has also meant that parents are often left to play catch-up when it comes to their teenagers’ development," she said.

The Screen-age Kicks guide covers internet trolling, sexting, online relationships, consent, pornography and masturbation.

"Parents and youth workers need to be equipped to approach these issues in an informed and practical manner."

Ms. Kennedy also highlighted the need for guidance around teen health and relationships in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing measures.

“As young people have been spending more time at home and online, issues around online relationships, consent and porn have come to the fore."

“Many Irish teens and parents have not been given the tools or guidance to deal with these issues during the pandemic, and the Sexual Health Centre is seeking to bridge that gap," she said.

Parents and teens can access The Sexual Health Centre Cork's Screen-age Kicks guide here.

© 2020 by EMPWR

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