Online sexual behaviours among Swedish youth: associations to background factors, behaviours and abuse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Sexual activity online may result in positive
experiences for young people, or lead them to engage in
risky behaviours possibly resulting in sexual assault or
abuse. The aim of our study was to investigate associations between online sexual behaviours among Swedish
youth and background factors as well as aspects of wellbeing. The behaviours investigated were: having sex online
with a contact met online, having sex with an online contact offlne, posting sexual pictures online, and selling sex
online. We used data from a representative sample of 3,432
Swedish youth who were asked about their lifetime experiences as well as their experiences within the previous
year. We hypothesized that more advanced online sexual
behaviours were associated with more problematic background factors, worse psychosocial well-being and riskier
behaviours in general. Bivariate relationships were evaluated followed by a multiple logistic regression model. Our
data suggested that most Swedish youth do not perform
any of the assessed online sexual behaviours. Young people who reported online sexual behaviour showed a more
problematic background, rated their health as poorer, had
a more sexualized life and had experienced more sexual or physical abuse. Professionals who work with young people
need to help them better evaluate potential risks online and
offer support when needed. Youths who sell sex online are
especially at risk and need extra attention, as they might be
in greater need of protection and therapeutic support.


External organisations
  • Linnaeus University
  • Linköping University
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Psychology


  • sexual risk taking, online sexual behaviour, sexting, Selling sex, youth, adolescent, internet
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Child & Adolescent Psychiatry
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Publication categoryResearch
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographic note

Published online 15 Jan 2015