The Relationship between Screen Time and Sexual Behaviors among Middle School Students.

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Reducing risky sexual behaviors and their negative health outcomes in youth remains a priority for health educators. Years of research have documented media's effect on various adolescent health risks, including sexual behaviors. As technology evolves and youth access to media increases, understanding the role of media in adolescent health risk behaviors is critical. The purpose of this study is to examine the relationship between middle school student sexual behaviors and screen time. Data from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey for Middle School in three large, southern school districts were used. Chi-square analyses showed that high screen time (3+ hours per school day of television or recreational computer use) was associated with a number of sexual behaviors including ever having had sex, having sex before age 11, and having had three or more partners. Results of multivariable logistic regression models documented the odds of ever having sex was 31% higher among those with high TV usage, 43% higher among those with high recreational computer usage, and 54% higher among those with extremely high (6+ hours) total screen time. Implications for health educators are presented.