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Impacts of media on sexual behaviour and relationships among youth in foster care

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Child & Family Social Work

Published online on


Youth in foster care (YFC) are at high risk of negative reproductive and other health outcomes and may be especially vulnerable to negative impacts of media due to early adversity and a lack of stable caregiver relationships. The aim of this project was to explore how access and exposure to media impacts YFC in order to inform future research in this realm and promote resilience in this understudied population. We conducted semistructured interviews with YFC ages 15–21 (n = 22) and focus groups with foster caregivers (n = 86). We used thematic analysis to analyse data for themes related to media. Youth and caregivers described four main themes: (a) impacts of media on youth norms and attitudes, (b) impacts of media on youth behaviour, (c) impacts of youth exposure to pornography, and (d) caregiver monitoring and mediation of media. Data from this study indicate that media has unique, important effects on YFC norms and behaviours, including sexual behaviours. Foster caregivers encounter multiple barriers to monitoring and mediating media use for YFC. Further research is needed to explore differential effects of media on YFC versus non‐YFC in order to develop effective interventions and mitigate potential negative effects of media.