Online Sexual Behaviours Among Swedish Youth : Characteristics, Associations and Consequences

Sammanfattning: Online sexual behaviours refer to sexual activities where the Internet and/or mobile phone are used. The aims of this thesis were to investigate young people and their experiences of different online sexual behaviours with regard to characteristics, associations and consequences, by using data from a representative sample of 3,503 Swedish youth (m= 18.3 years). In addition 16 interviews were made with young women who had sold sex online before the age of 18. Focus in these interviews were in which ways contacts between buyer and seller were established and the motivational factors for selling sex online.In study I (n= 3,288), 20.9% (19.2% boys and 22.3% girls) reported experiences of voluntary online sexual exposure: flashing in webcam/mobile; posted partially undressed pictures or films; masturbated on webcam; had sex on webcam. Multivariate analysis showed a significant association between voluntary online sexual exposure and a number of different forms of harassments online. Neither poorer psychological health nor problematic relations with parents remained significant in the final model predicting voluntary online sexual exposure. In study II (n= 3,432) four online sexual behaviours were studied: meeting a person online for sex online; meeting a person online for sex offline; posted sexual pictures online; selling sex online. These were investigated in relation to socio-demographic factors, psychosocial wellbeing and risk behaviours. Bivariate logistic regressions were followed by multiple logistic regressions. The data suggested that most Swedish youth do not perform any of the assessed online sexual behaviours, but those who did (15.2%) reported a more problematic background, rated their health as poorer, had a more sexualised life and had experienced more sexual or physical abuse. This was especially prevalent among those who had sold sex online. In study III, young women with experiences of selling sex online before the age of 18 were interviewed. The interviews focused on the role Internet and mobile phone play and the methods of contacts and characteristics of the communication between buyer and seller. Two main themes were identified: Internet use - part of daily life for good and bad, depending on mood; Patterns of contacts - innocent/curious, dating, advertising. In the fourth study the interviews with the young women who had sold sex online before the age of 18 were analysed focusing on the women’s perceptions of the reasons why they started, continued and stopped selling sex. Three themes and eight sub-themes were identified in relation to different stages in their lives in the sex trade, each with its own storyline: Entering, adverse life experiences - traumatic events, feeling different and being excluded; Immersion, using the body as a regulating tool - being seen, being touched, being in control, affect regulation and self-harming; Exiting, change or die - living close to death, the process of quitting.In conclusion, the results from this thesis showed that most young people use Internet and mobile phones for non-sexual activities. Sexual behaviours online were associated with a more problematic background and poorer wellbeing. More research, attention and support are needed, especially related to young people selling sex online.