Sexual Health & Social Media



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



Greater engagement with social media sites such as Facebook have been found to increase college students’ perceptions of sexual norms by exposing the individual to content suggesting greater approval of risky sexual behavior than they have previously encountered. Previous studies have theorized that individuals are influenced by social norms because of their desire to “fit in” (normative social influence) or beliefs that others’ judgements are relatively reliable sources of evidence about reality (informational social influence) (Deutsch & Gerard, 1955). One study found participants who observed sexually suggestive photos on Facebook expected a larger percentage of their peers and themselves would engage in risky sex (Young & Jordan, 2013). Yet, little research has investigated individuals’ perceptions of whether others are more influenced by social media to participate in sexual activity than they are themselves. College students completed online surveys about their UH peers’ and own social media use and sexual behavior for course credit. Paired sample t-tests were used to test hypotheses. Results suggested students believed their sexual behavior was less influenced by social media than they perceived their peers were. These results support our hypotheses, which provide a foundation for considering norms based interventions related to the influence of sexual content in social media and risky sexual behavior.