Date of Award

January 2014

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)

Department

School of Public Health

First Advisor

Trace Kershaw

Abstract

In spite of the high prevalence of active users on social networking sites (SNSs), research examining the ways in which online social network interactions are associated with health have been limited (Morgan, et al., 2010). The primary aim of this study was to understand the context in which emerging adult men post masculine themed images and videos on their SNS's and its relationship to sexual risk behavior (e.g. number of sexual partners, concurrency, and condom use) and offline communication about sex with friends (e.g. talking about sex, HIV/STDs, and relationships), by examining the relationship between 902 images and videos posted on Instagram and Twitter that depict themes of masculinity (e.g. misogyny, sex, coolness, toughness, material status, and social status) and self-reported sexual risk behavior among 40 minority emerging adult males. Results indicated that themes of misogyny, sex, and coolness were correlated with a number of sexual risk behaviors and offline communication about sex. Positive correlations were found between current number of sexual partners and themes of misogyny (r=.40, p=.014) and coolness (r=.35, p=.037); concurrent partners and themes of misogyny (r=-.45, p=.006) and sex (r=.36, p=.031); offline communication with friends about sex and themes of misogyny (r=.46, p=.003) and sex (r=.39, p=.011); offline communication with friends about relationships and themes of misogyny (r=.50, p=.001), sex (r=.44, p=.005), and coolness (r=.31, p=.055); and offline communication with friends about HIV/STDs and themes of coolness (r=.52, p=.001). Negative correlations between condom use with a non-steady partner and misogyny (r=-.45, p=.031) and sex (r=-.61, p=.002) and were also found. In conclusion, the results of this study suggest that images posted on social networking sites are associated with risky sexual behavior and may serve to identify high risk individuals.

Comments

This is an Open Access Thesis.

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