An app that makes everyone a sexpert

Public health officers say that the earlier you start talking to your children about the realities of sex and its consequences, the better. (Chris Ware/Lexington Herald-Leader/MCT)
Public health officers say that the earlier you start talking to your children about the realities of sex and its consequences, the better. (Chris Ware/Lexington Herald-Leader/MCT)

Some people love talking about it, while others detest its presence in conversation. Some people giggle about it, and some find themselves scratching their heads in an attempt to understand what it means.

When it comes down to it, there are many reactions that the never-ending conversation about sex can produce — and it needs to be talked about. Does suffering through mundane health classes really benefit teenagers? Do kids get exactly what they need from perusing the murky, often inaccurate waters of Google? Or, are the daunting stories one hears from friends and siblings enough to help them make the right choices beneath the sheets? 

The Internet is clearly a hit or miss source for sexual health. Of 177 sexual health websites examined in a recent study, 46 percent of those addressing contraception and 35 percent of those addressing abortion contained inaccurate information.

Recent University of Tennessee graduates have decided to put an end to these questions with the simplicity of an app. The popularity of the app market, with outlets such as Tinder and Grindr, has sparked a platform for a new type of conversation — one that everybody should have. Strategically named Hookup — most likely to attract initial attention from today’s youth — the app will provide a safe, anonymous platform for teens to ask experts questions about anything in the realm of sex and relationships.

According to the app’s website, it will also include games, how-to videos, information on nearby clinics and a discussion section where users can share personal stories about sexual experiences. The creators of this app are hoping that the anonymous nature of it will encourage users to ask the kind of questions that they may be too nervous or embarrassed to ask anybody else.

The response from DePaul students has been varied, but freshman Rose Doherty finds this app to be extremely beneficial to young people. “DePaul teaches safe drinking tips instead of just telling us not to drink. It should be the same with other issues too; the school doesn’t really extend this openness to sex,” Doherty said. “Honestly, I think DePaul kind of needs to up their game. We have plenty of other resources from the university. Why should sex be any different?”

Many other students did not get proper sex education before college. DePaul freshman Peter Smith shared his experience regarding sex education. “Growing up in the Catholic school system, I wasn’t provided much education when it came to sex. Abstinence was the only rule; we had a brief class section on STDs, but when it came to birth control, they just taught us that it was immoral.”

Health classes such as these are simply not realistic. Teaching abstinence in school will not stop teenagers from having sex — it will only lead to impulsive and uneducated sexual behavior. In fact, the Society for Adolescent Medicine recently declared, “abstinence-only programs threaten fundamental human rights to health, information, and life.”

This app can also provide a platform for young people in the LGBTQ community, where beneficial information may not be provided whatsoever in their health classes. According to an article in New Republic by Jonathan Cohn, anti-gay rhetoric often makes its way into sexual education classes, especially in conservative states.

In Alabama, educators must emphasize that homosexuality is “not a lifestyle acceptable to the general public.” In Mississippi, they must teach students that homosexuality is illegal. And for those high schools that do in fact provide some information in health class, the sheer mass of information surrounding puberty, genitals, sex and tons of other cringe worthy words cannot be adequately covered in one class. There’s still so much left unanswered.

Apart from the possibility of this app becoming a breeding ground for bullying and tall tales, it will most definitely have a positive effect on today’s youth. For those who can’t go to their parents and are too shy to discuss it with a doctor, Hookup will provide an anonymous, private outlet for teens with questions — and everybody has questions.