Safe on My Phone? Same-Sex Attracted Young People’s Negotiations of Intimacy, Visibility, and Risk on Digital Hook-Up Apps

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Social Media and Society, 2016, 2, (4)
Issue Date:
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This article draws on focus group interviews with same-sex attracted Australian men and women aged 18-29, to reflect on their accounts of the perceived risks and opportunities offered by hook-up apps such as Grindr, Blendr, and Hornet. Until recently, scholarly accounts of same-sex attracted men hooking up online have primarily focused on measuring the safety of sexual encounters in relation to HIV and “risky” sexual practices. This article extends previous health-related studies by considering the ways that the exchange of sexually explicit digital self-portraits (or selfies) feature within digital sexual negotiations and also exploring same-sex attracted women’s perceptions of safety and risk in relation to dating and hook-up apps and websites. It draws on recent scholarship on Grindr and other geo-locative hook-up apps to explore the material role that mobile phones and apps play in establishing a sense of safety, intimacy, and/or risk within flirtations and sexual interactions and the ways that young people’s “off-label” (or non-sexual) uses of hook-up apps might facilitate (and diminish) their sense of queer identity and visibility.
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