Objective: To assess the correlation among social media use, peer influence and sexual risk behaviour among school going adolescents.
Method: The cross-sectional study was conducted from April to July 2022 after approval from the ethics review board of Stikes, Hang Tuah, Surabaya, Indonesia, and comprised grade 11 students of either gender at the Senior High School 1, Hang Tuah, Surabaya. Data was collected using social media and peer influence questionnaires. Data was analysed using SPSS version 23.
Results: Of the 134 participants, 79(59%) were males, and 91(67.9%) were aged 17 years. Highly frequent social media usage was reported by 81(60.4%) subjects, getting influenced by peers by 82(61.2%) and sexual risk behaviour by 88(65.7%). Social media usage and peer influence were significantly associated with sexual behaviour (p<0.05).
Conclusion: A significant relationship was noted of sexual behaviour with social media usage and peer influence.
Keywords: Sexual behaviour, Adolescent, Demography, Social media, Peer influence. (JPMA 73: S-39 [Suppl. 2]; 2023)
The total population in Indonesia of those aged 15-19 was 22,242,866 million in 2018; 11,378,661 million males and 10,864,205 million females. The largest age group in the East Java province was 15-19 years (8.23%).1 Adolescence is a period dominated by puberty or reproductive maturation, mental development as well as transition from socioeconomic dependence to independence. These changes have an important impact on health outcomes in this group.2
Puberty among adolescents has a high-risk prevalence of sexual behaviour.3 Sexual behaviour refers to all activities to fulfil sexual needs, such as sexual practices and sexual relationships. Meanwhile, adolescent sexual behaviour refers to activities during dating, kissing and early sexual intercourse.4 These activities may promote risk behaviour and have an effect on health outcomes, such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs), unwanted pregnancies, abortion, and legal/familial conflict.5
The degree of sexual risk behaviour among adolescents in Indonesia increased in several activities; holding hands from 69% to 75% and kissing to 29.3%. In addition, 3.5% of adolescents reported having sex before marriage due to curiosity.6
Factors related to adolescent sexual behaviour include the desire for early marriage7 and having low self-control8. Social media use is also a factor related to sexual behaviour among adolescents.9 It is known that several videos or pictures in social media along with internet pornography are not suitable for children and adolescents.10 The family should be responsible for controlling these situations.11
Besides, influence of peers also triggers sexual risk behaviour.12 This causes adolescents to use peer norms rather than existing social norms.13
The current study was planned to assess the relationship of sexual risk behaviour with social media use and peer influence.
Subjects and methods
The cross-sectional study was conducted from April to July 2022 after approval from the ethics review board of Stikes, Hang Tuah, Surabaya, Indonesia, and comprised grade 11 students of either gender at the Senior High School 1, Hang Tuah, Surabaya. The sample was raised using simple random sampling technique. Informed consent was obtained from all the subjects who were allowed to withdraw from the study after reading the questionnaire. Those who did not agree to participate were excluded.
Data was collected using a self-reporting questionnaire, seeking demographic information, like age, gender, etc. The questionnaire related to social media use was adapted from a previous study.14 There were 19 items under three domains; obtaining information, encouraging use of social media, and individual attitude. It was scored on a Likert scale, with 4 = always and 1= never. The total score ranged 19-76. A score of 19-37 was considered low frequency, 38-56 moderate, and 57-76 high frequency. The Cronbach’s alpha of the questionnaire was 0.830.
The questionnaire related to peer influence was adapted from a previous study.15 It had 10 items under three domains; obtaining information from peers, encouragement to do sexual activities, and individual attitude. It was scored on a Likert scale, with 4 = strongly agree and 1 = strongly disagree. Score 10-19 was considered low, 20-29 moderate, and 30-39 high. Cronbach’s alpha for the questionnaire was 0.907.
The questionnaire related to sexual behaviour was adapted from a previous study.16 It had 15 items exploring masturbation, touching, kissing, deep kissing, oral sex, petting and sexual intercourse. Each item was scored 0 for never and 1 for yes. The total score ranged 0-15, with 8.5-15 indicating risk behaviour, and 1-7.5 indicating no risk activity. Cronbach’s alpha of the questionnaire was 0.7.
Data was analysed using SPSS version 23. Descriptive statistics were used to calculate frequencies and percentages for all variables. Spearman’s rho was used to analyse the correlation of sexual behaviour with social media use and peer influence. P<0.05 was taken as marker for statistical significance.
Of the 134 participants, 79(59%) were males, and 91(67.9%) were aged 17 years (Table 1).
Highly frequent social media usage was reported by 81(60.4%) subjects, getting influenced by peers by 82(61.2%) and sexual risk behaviour by 88(65.7%) (Table 2).
Social media usage and peer influence were significantly associated with sexual behaviour (p<0.05) (Table 3).
Most respondents is the study used social media very frequently. The social media mostly accessed were WhatsApp, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok and Telegram. Adolescents spent a lot of time on social media to communicate with others. The findings were in line with those of previous studies.17,18
The current study also showed that peer influence among the respondents was in the high category, and the respondents’ behaviour was influenced by peer pressure. Socialisation with peers is important in encouraging individual psychosocial activities, but it may have both positive and negative impacts. If the peer influence is positive, it will have a good impact, and if it is negative, it will have a bad impact on adolescents.19,20
The current study exhibited that sexual behaviour among the respondents was in the high-risk category, as evidenced in responses to item 12 (having sex by touching the genitals), item 13 (having sex without contraception), item 14 (having sex using contraceptives), and item 15 (having sex with more than one partner). The responses were in line with a previous study which stated that experience of having sex increases among those aged 12-19 years.21
The results showed that there was a significant relationship between the use of social media and sexual behaviour among the respondents. Those who used social media intensely tended to have a high-risk sexual behaviour because social media can be used to share information and ideas, and also to convey private messages and other contents. The finding supported previous studies which determined that high social media usage was more likely to lead to a risky sexual behavior.22,23 Parental control is important to mitigate sexual risk behaviour among adolescents.
The current study also showed that there was a significant relationship between peer influence and sexual risk behaviour. High peer influence tended to lead to high-risk sexual behaviour. Adolescents rely more on their peers than their parents. They also have strong emotional ties with their peer group.24,25 It is important to pay attention to activities that affect adolescent sexual behaviour. Lack of family roles, less supervision or less spiritual awareness can lead to a high-risk behaviour among the adolescents.
The limitation of the current study were the inclusion of only adolescents in a senior high school who may have different responses compared to adolescents in colleges due to the influence of social media. Also, the sample size was not calculated. Further studies should be conducted to overcome such limitations.
There was a significant relationship of sexual behaviour with social media usage and peer influence among adolescents.
Acknowledgment: We are grateful to the management of Senior High School 1, Hang Tuah, Surabaya, and to all the respondents.
Disclaimer: The text was presented at the 13th International Nursing Conference held at Universitas Airlangga, Indonesia, in 2022.
Conflict of Interest: None.
Source of Funding: None.
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