Dr. Pinsky Publishes Paper in ‘Sex Education’

By Emily Horowitz | August 15, 2022
Portrait of Dr. Dina Pinsky
Dr. Dina Pinsky

Dr. Dina Pinsky, chair of the Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminal Justice Department and associate professor of Sociology, recently published ‘Digitally mediated communication and school-based sex education in the USA’ in the international journal Sex Education.

To determine how young people are using digital technology to explore their sexuality and develop romantic and sexual relationships with peers, Pinsky interviewed 110 high school and college students in the Northeastern United States. She found that digital interactions are a fundamental part of flirtation for adolescents and mitigate the interpersonal risks associated with flirtation.

“The ‘screen’ is seen as a protective barrier against the emotional vulnerability and embarrassment that can occur during in-person flirtation,” she writes. “Gender and sexual minority youth also appreciate how digitally mediated intimacy protects them from threats to physical safety in a hetero-patriarchal world.”

Despite the noted benefits of digital technology, Pinsky points out that adults continue to dwell on the risks of cell phones and social media for young people, “[blinding] educators to exploring the ways in which new technology is integrated into adolescents’ socio-sexual lives.”

In her paper, Pinsky asserts that, “To be effective, school-based sex education must engage creatively with the role of digitally mediated communication in adolescents’ romantic and sexual lives.”