Gender and Sexuality: Young People and Digital Intimacies

Date & Time:

3rd November, 16:00


Online event; the link will be sent to those who register on Eventbriate.


Prof. Clarissa Smith discusses young people's use of online platforms to produce and share intimate content, and the regulatory responses.

Young People and Digital Intimacies

Technological developments have changed the ways young people communicate and connect, offering new opportunities for intimate practices (Ofcom 2019). Online platforms are now central to the ways young people make sense of themselves and their relationships (Buckingham et al. 2015; boyd, 2014) as they move across platforms and devices, producing, sharing, broadcasting and starring in intimate content (Attwood et al 2018; McKee 2016; Tiidenberg & Van der Nagel 2020; Tziallas 2016) and finding new ways to establish friendships and connections. New possibilities for intimate exchange sometimes come with risk and adults are often worried about the possibilities for exploitation or harm, particularly when those exchanges focus on sex and sexuality. As a result, there are calls for the legal regulation and control of sexualised media, along with educational interventions which focus on media literacy, digital literacy and porn literacy. However, there is little evidence that these programmes can get to grips with the complexities of young people’s engagements with sexual content (Goldstein 2020). Initiatives are rarely designed to take young people’s point of view into account, focusing instead on prevention, protection and prohibition; an approach which young people view as ‘out of touch’.

Clarissa Smith is a Professor in the Media Department at Northumbria University. Her research focuses on representations of sexuality and how audiences engage with media texts. Most recently she co-authored Watching Game of Thrones: How Audiences Engage with Dark Television with Martin Barker and Feona Attwood.