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By Leslie Kantor, Vice President of Education, Planned Parenthood Federation of America

If your teen is anything like mine, it can be nearly impossible to get him away from his phone! Knowing that it’s such an integral part of their lives, and that teens want to get information on their phones from trustworthy sources instantaneously, Planned Parenthood is giving them both what they want and what they need: an entertaining way to make plans for their futures, learn skills to resist peer pressure, make healthy decisions, and encourage them to talk to you — all while using their phones.  

Planned Parenthood launched nine new tools designed for cell phones — and because they need different information at different ages, there is a set of tools for middle-school aged teens and another for high-school aged teens. They can be used on any phone or computer that can go online and don’t require Smartphone capability. 

 

These “apps” (actually mobile websites) were designed after listening to the needs of hundreds of teens from across the country and with input from experts and professionals. They are based on what research has shown helps teens make good decisions and follow through on them — all in a format that teens like. Digital tools like these can give young people tailored information based on their answers and reach those who aren’t getting information they need in schools. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that only 9% of middle schools and 32% of high schools cover all of the most important topics related to HIV, STIs, and preventing pregnancy.

We hope that parents encourage their teens to check out these tools, and use them to spark discussions about sex and their future plans. Here are the specifics:

  • Awkward or Not?”: A quiz for teens of all ages that encourages them to talk with their parents about dating and sex and offers tips to start the conversation.

The tools for younger teens encourage them to wait to have sex, set goals for the future, and teach them the skills they’ll need to avoid risky situations.

  • What’s Your Love Personality?” or “Where Do You Stand?”: Designed separately for boys and girls, these help teens think about their ideas about sex and set clear intentions to wait. 
  •  “The Kickback”: Presents videos that show effective responses to peer pressure to drink, use drugs, or have sex and then gives teens the chance to choose how they would handle similar situations and learn useful responses.
  • What’s Your Plan”: Helps teens identify their long-term goals and asks them to consider what impact having a child as a teen could have on those plans. This helps them focus on their future as a way to encourage them to wait to have sex, and the tool gives them the opportunity to share their plan with their parents.   

 

The tools for older teens help them set goals, learn the benefits of consistently using both birth control and condoms to prevent unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and help them support a boyfriend or girlfriend in staying safe and healthy. 

  • Fast Forward”: Encourages teens to think about their long-term goals for their education, career, and family, consider what impact having a child as a teen could have on those plans, and set short-term goals to help move their plans forward.
  •  “My Birth Control”: Guides young women through a series of questions to find birth control methods that meet their needs and help them make decisions they will stick with. 
  •  “Been There. Done That.”: Encourages teens to make a plan to use both birth control and condoms (also known as “dual use”) when having sex to prevent unintended pregnancy and STIs. 
  •  “It Takes Two”: Presents videos of young people talking about the importance of using both condoms and birth control, common myths that cause people to stop using effective birth control methods, and tips for supporting a partner in using birth control and condoms.

 

Planned Parenthood provides educational programs in person to more than a million people each year, including teens and their parents. Parents can also find information, videos, tips, and resources on talking to children of all ages on Planned Parenthood’s Tools for Parents page.

We know how important it is that teens, and their parents, have the resources they need to stay healthy and plan their future. We believe parents should always be their teens’ primary sex educators, and hope these tools help you have these important conversations.

 

Follow Leslie on Twitter @LeslieKantor.


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