The Youth Are Turning to TikTok for Sex Ed, but How Accurate Are the Videos?
A new study reveals that the app’s content isn’t screened for misinformation.
The Verge has recently written on the dangers of misinformation about one of TikTok’s most popular topics: sex education — or as the app would censor it as, “seggs education.” The emergence of 15-second videos on everything from sexual wellness to kink has given youth a perspective on sex that traditional sex education rarely covers. In fact, the very rise of these TikToks points to a huge gap in typical sex education: the female orgasm and anatomy.
A recent study conducted by professors evaluated the sexual themes most teens gravitate towards on TikTok. Researchers pointed out that the female orgasm and anatomy are not only the most sought-after content, but that they are also important topics missing from traditional sex education.
Sex education is defined as “including healthy sexual development, gender identity, interpersonal relationships, affection, sexual development, intimacy and body image for all adolescents,” especially those with special needs. However, traditional sex education doesn’t even cover authentic pleasure or even methods for disabled individuals. Its approach is actually similar to the parody scene from Mean Girls, where the “sex ed teacher” is the gym teacher who boldly states, “Don’t have sex, cause you’ll get pregnant and die.”
From a sex educator perspective, the rise of new forms of sex education is exactly what future generations deserve. For too long, sexual wellness and pleasure haven’t been given the attention they deserve due to stigmas enforced by tradition and taboo. This lack of information forces individuals to find information in any way they can. Case in point: the youth turning to TikTok. It’s actually quite admirable and innovative to see younger generations acknowledging the gap in traditional sex education and seek information elsewhere. After all, if you don’t prioritize your orgasms, who will?
The problem that The Verge and other sex researchers rightfully point out, is that none of the sex education content on TikTok is actually fact-checked or peer-reviewed. With over a billion users, misinformation on TikTok could become as problematic as traditional sex education.
Health Policy Researcher Marco Zenone proposed a research-based team that will fact-check all shared medical — including sexual health — advice on TikTok. That means on the app, users could potentially learn about everything from their sexual anatomy and how it works, to how to pleasure themselves and partners in an authentic way.
However, until society gets with the times, The Verge proposes the idea of having a “consult with your physician first” attitude. After all, misinformation is dangerous, and especially when it involves your precious pleasure.