College students use social media as a way to communicate, but Planned Parenthood officials are working to advocate safe sex by using this recent technology.
Planned Parenthood of the Greater Northwest celebrated National Condom Week, Feb. 14-21, by distributing 55,000 condoms with QR codes on the package to its health centers, community colleges and universities in Western Washington. When users scan the QR code on the condom wrapper their smartphones connect them to the Where Did You Wear It website. From there condom users can anonymously check-in their safe sex location on the map.
“Where Did You Wear It targets college students and millennials, already comfortable with social media to promote healthy sexuality and to be ‘proud to wear protection,’” Kristen Glundberg-Prosser, director of media relations and public affairs at Seattle Planned Parenthood, said.
So far, the Where Did You Wear It website has had check-ins from 45 of 50 states as well as five continents. Pierce College Puyallup received 1,000 of these condoms at no charge to promote National Condom week. Pierce College also is charted on the Where Did You Wear It website as a location of Safe Sex with a QR code condom.
Sonja Morgan, Student Programs coordinator, says Pierce College has partnered with Planned Parenthood at two events this year and throughout the year to provide free condoms and brochures. Planned Parenthood has participated at Student Programs’ events on World AIDS Day and the Valentine’s Day Extravaganza, which coincided with National Condom Week.
“These events also included information from Planned Parenthood and other agencies about abstinence and alternatives to having sex,” Morgan said.
The purpose of distributing the condoms was not to encourage students to have sex but to encourage them to have sex safely.
“Planned Parenthood wants users to be part of the solution and to be smart, sexy and responsible — not just during National Condom Week – but every week,” Nathan Engebretson, PPGNW new media coordinator, said. “Condoms are an essential tool in preventing unintended pregnancy and stopping the spread of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. We hope the site promotes discussions within relationships about condoms and helps to remove perceived stigmas that some people may have about condom use. Where Did You Wear It attempts to create some fun around making responsible decisions.”
Students seem to be wary of the idea of proclaiming their intimate locations, and hesitant to stop in the moment to scan a QR code on a condom.
“That’s really awkward. I’m not gonna lie,” student Michael Declercq said.
The use of condoms is a choice sexual partners make, and some think that plotting sexual practices digitally won’t change whether or not partners decide to have safe sex.
“Do I think it’ll help? No,” student Shari Nygen said. “If they’re going to be irresponsible, then they’re going to be irresponsible.”
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