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Rueda -

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Journal of Adolescent Research



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The aim of this study was to explore the role of technology in the dating and sexual experiences of pregnant and parenting adolescent girls placed in residential foster care. Interviews with program staff (N = 12; 50% Hispanic) and focus groups with adolescent foster youth (N = 13; 46% Hispanic) were conducted to understand how technologies (e.g., cell phone, texting, and social media) influence youth’s dating lives, including how youth navigate conflict with a dating partner in technology spaces and their experiences with cyber abuse. Both staff and youth emphasized technology as providing an outlet from the home and forum through which to meet, interact, and sustain intimate relationships, the latter including the father of (a) child(ren). Youth creatively collaborated to access technology and became involved in each other’s relationships. Staff and youth discussed divergent risk contexts, staff emphasizing the risks posed to children (e.g., taken on online dates) and youth discussing online sexual solicitations, conflict with the child(ren)’s father in public and peer-involved online spaces, and cyber abuse. Helping professionals should be trained on the centrality of technology to youth dating and provide dating health education that includes attention to technology mediums.


This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Sage in Journal of Adolescent Research on July 17, 2019, available online:

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