Switched on: sexuality education in the digital space


Comprehensive Sexuality Education


This technical brief summarises the findings of two reviews commissioned by UNESCO in 2019. The first is a desk review of the evidence for the use of digital resources to deliver sexuality education for young people, conducted by the Institute of Development Studies (UK). The review aimed to explore the extent to which digital content can influence knowledge, attitudes and practices of young people 10-24 years old and the potential for digital spaces to be used to add value to the traditional delivery of CSE. The second review involved primary research with young people around the world led by Restless Development, a youth led international NGO.


As young people become increasingly engaged with digital spaces – over 70% of the world’s youth aged 15- 24 are online – it is not surprising that many are turning to digital sources to seek information about bodies, sex and relationships. This new reality comes with both opportunities and challenges. Digital spaces offer an emerging platform where some elements of sexuality education can be made more accessible, engaging, and interactive for young people. They also offer a potential avenue to complement traditional classroom delivery of comprehensive sexuality education (CSE), with resources aimed at supporting educators. At the same time, quality assurance is a challenge, and, in venturing into digital spaces to seek information, young people will come across a range of content, some of which may be incomplete, poorly informed or harmful. Educators, healthcare workers and digital content managers are faced with a delicate balance between leveraging the potential of the digital spaces for delivery of quality content that reaches a diverse population of young people, and the responsibility to ensure that young people are equipped with the skills to critically engage with the content they encounter.

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