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Breaking the silence: Young people, sex information and the internet in Italy and Portugal

Cardoso, Daniel and Scarcelli, Cosimo Marco (2021) Breaking the silence: Young people, sex information and the internet in Italy and Portugal. In: Gender and Sexuality in the European Media Exploring Different Contexts Though Conceptualisations of Age. Routledge. ISBN 0367407345

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Abstract

Using the internet to look for information about sex and sexuality has been recognised by prior research as a benefit of technological development and an important area to investigate, but few empirical studies have so far been conducted, especially those focusing on transnational comparisons. This chapter draws from two different qualitative works that the authors conducted in Italy and in Portugal. The empirical works involved 61 adolescents between 16 and 20 years old who lived in Italy and Portugal. The chapter will focus on the different ways that adolescents find information about sexual topics, using the internet, as well as on the reasons for using particular websites or platforms to seek information, the gender differences connected to internet usage for this purpose, adolescents’ fears and expectations, and their own redefinitions of what constitutes ‘information about sexual issues’. This chapter will allow for a comparison between two different countries that share many cultural similarities, stressing the similarities and differences between them. It will enable us to demonstrate the work of bricolage and resistance that adolescents perform every day when seeking information connected to the sexual sphere. In other words, the contribution will describe the dialogues between social spaces and actors that surround adolescents’ efforts to understand sex and sexuality, in contexts that often only offer silence or normalised heteronormative experiences.

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