Motivations to Start and Stop Using Sexual Networking Applications Among Adolescent Sexual Minority Men

Christopher Owens*, Addie Shrodes, Ashley Kraus, Jeremy Birnholtz, David A. Moskowitz, Kathryn Macapagal

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Introduction: Although adolescent sexual minority men (ASMM) use sexual networking applications (SNAs), little is known about their reasons to start and stop using these apps. Methods: Between February and April 2018, 156 ASMM in the USA aged 15–17 completed an online survey and answered open-ended questions that elicited their reasons to start and stop using SNAs. We analyzed responses through an inductive thematic analysis. Results: The most frequent reasons to use SNAs were to find users to date, and to establish friendships or socially connect with other users due to loneliness. Participants reported positive feelings using SNAs because they were connecting with other SMM. However, participants also reported negative sentiments after receiving unwanted sexually explicit messages. The most frequently cited reason to stop using SNAs was the feeling of only receiving messages for sex rather than for starting relationships or friendships. Conclusions: ASMM have various reasons for initiating SNAs and perceived benefits and drawbacks. Although some ASMM may expect to, and are successful in, finding dating partners and friends on SNAs, many received unwanted sexually explicit messages that produced negative sentiments of SNAs. Policy Implications: Creating online and offline spaces for ASMM to socially connect with other sexual minority adolescents is crucial. Youth-serving professionals should assess SNA use with ASMM clients and be prepared to provide education or counseling about their use and its potential sexual, social, and mental health implications. Sexuality education should include content on the usage, safety, and alternatives of SNAs to explore sexuality and social connectedness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)329-339
Number of pages11
JournalSexuality Research and Social Policy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2023


  • Adolescent
  • Motivation
  • Sexual health
  • Sexual minority men
  • Sexual networking applications
  • Technology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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