The purpose of Looking is to examine sexual and gender minority youth’s social networking application use to meet sexual partners and its associations with their sexual health and well-being. Most research on social networking application use to meet potential partners has focused on adult men who have sex with men. While there are social networking apps marketed for SGM individuals as young as 13, they are limited in number and intended for non-sexual purposes. As a result SGM adolescents may gravitate toward dating/hookup apps for adults as a way to explore their developing sexual identities and overcome common obstacles to meeting partners, such as proximity, sexual identity disclosure, and ascertaining a prospective partner’s sexual orientation.

The Looking project aims to use surveys and focus groups to answer the following questions:

  • What are the perceived risks and benefits of using these apps?
  • What are youth’s motivations for using the apps?
  • How do youth present themselves on the apps?
  • How do youth protect their safety when using these apps?
  • What partner profile information is most important in guiding decisions about partner trustworthiness and risk?
  • What assumptions may inform sexual decision making about partners from the apps?
  • What are the characteristics of youth’s sexual/romantic partners met through these apps?

Investigator: Dr. Kathryn Macapagal

Funder: The Sexualities Project at Northwestern (SPAN)