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Of the 496 teenagers, 54 % had experiences of both online and offline sexual and romantic activities, while the remaining (46 %) had only offline experiences.
Teenagers’ experiences with online sexual/romantic activities were associated with experiences of offline sexual/romantic activities.
A second explanation for the unclear pattern of findings regarding adolescent well-being and sexual activity could be the types of sexual and romantic experiences that are sought.
For example, an Italian study (Ciairano, Bonino, Kliewer, Miceli, & Jackson, 2006) while revealing a negative link between sexually active teenagers and well-being, also found a positive link between dating and well-being.
Several studies, however, have paid extra attention to psychosocial well-being, including aspects such as; the individual’s sense of relatedness to others, that one’s life has direction and meaning, self-esteem, and psychosocial adjustment (for an overview see Rayle, 2005).
In the current study we will focus on dimensions of relatedness (‘relational satisfaction’), self-esteem (‘personal satisfaction’) and psychosocial adjustment (‘destructive behaviour’).
Furthermore, the study contributes to greater understanding of sexual development for boys and girls in both traditional and new settings taking into count age and pubertal timing.
The debate regarding adolescent sexuality has focused too narrowly on what is to be regarded as proper, or not, while ignoring the complex dimensions of sexuality and the importance of sexual identity as a developmental task (Haffner, 1998).
To be able to understand and to guide adolescents in sexual identity formation requires an understanding of the links between well-being and sexual activities, not only in traditional (offline) settings, but also in online settings.
This study contributes to the understanding of adolescents’ well-being and sexuality by examining the link between adolescents’ well-being and off- as well as online sexual/romantic activities.
There are at least three possible reasons why such differences in findings might occur.
One is that several scholars show that the nature of the link between well-being and sexual activity has to do with pubertal timing.
The effects of early maturation are usually negative for girls and can include problems such as depressed mood, negative body image, substance use, early sexual activity and conflict with parents (Lynne, Graber, Nichols, Brooks-Gunn, & Botvin, 2007; Mendle, Turkheimer, & Emery, 2007; Skoog, 2013; Westling, Andrews, Hampson, Peterson, & Pubertal, 2008).