After high school and college ends, we often assume that the bulk of our learning is done. In the case of sexuality education, our knowledge generally consists of what we may have learned in health class and what our parents forgot to tell us. In adulthood, we move on to getting jobs, forming relationships and raising families. We often do this without the realization that there may be a small gap, and in some cases, a deep chasm between what we have been taught as kids and what we may want to know. Reaching the curious adult learner isn’t as easy as waiting until the next class session if they are not enrolled in college and taking an intro to human sexuality course.
Prior to the 1970’s, sexuality education was inconsistently offered to students with no standard curriculum or information being provided. The post 1970’s expectation continues to vary between programs offered (Fisher, Herbenick, Reece, Dodge, Satinsky, & Fischtein, 2010). With so much variance in what was taught, who do you turn to when you want to learn more? Older adults have been turning to the internet for their information. They were educated during a time that sexuality was not spoken about as openly as today and with the advent and increased availability of information, using websites to responsibly educate is a viable option. This may be especially helpful in providing sexuality for older adult males since they tend to use the internet more often than older adult females (Adams, Oye & Parker, 2003).
Using the internet as an educational tool is only as good as the websites that are searched. All information is not correct nor is it responsible information. Websites also change and are shut down almost as often as they are created. When working with adults and using websites as resources, it is important to check for the validity of information provided.
The internet can be used as an outlet for sexual expression, erotica, pornography, and cybersex. It can also be used to connect to educators. Another way to reach an adult population is through at-home toys parties. These can be set up through toy companies found on the web. These parties provide a safe space (your own home with your own friends) and allow the participants to ask questions related to relationships, specific skills and perceptions in addition to the toys for purchase. When discussion is aligned with the SEICUS guidelines, toy parties can provide the answers that women may not have any other outlet to receive (Fisher, et al., 2010). They also provide boatloads of fun.
Adams, M. S., Oye, J., & Parker, T. S. (2003). Sexuality of older adults and the Internet: from sex education to cybersex. Sexual & Relationship Therapy, 18(3), 405.
Fisher, C., Herbenick, D., Reece, M., Dodge, B., Satinsky, S., & Fischtein, D. (2010). Exploring sexuality education opportunities at in-home sex-toy parties in the United States. Sex Education, 10(2), 131-144. doi:10.1080/14681811003666341