Is it Too Soon to Meet? Examining Differences in Geosocial Networking App Use and Sexual Risk Behavior of Emerging Adults Academic Article uri icon


  • 2017, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. Location-based geosocial networking smartphone applications (GSN apps) have become a popular way to meet romantic and casual sex partners. Although first used primarily by men who have sex with men (MSM), GSN apps are now commonly used in the population at large, particularly among emerging adults. Although, these apps may potentially contribute to increases in STI/HIV incidence, previous research linking GSN app use to sexual risk behavior has been mixed, with some suggesting app users report greater sexual risk behavior and others suggesting less. The present paper details findings of two studies with independent samples of emerging adults. The first, a pilot study, examined GSN app use among young MSM (n=64) to identify possible within-group factors relating dating app use to sexual risk behavior. Results indicated that the time app users spent talking to each other through the app before meeting in person (time before meeting) was related to engagement in sexual risk behavior. Those who talked less before meeting in person engaged in more sexual risk behaviors than those who spent more time talking before meeting in person. The second study sought to expand upon this finding in a more representative sample of GSN app users (n=129) and compared sexual risk behavior and impulsivity to non-users (n=88). There were no differences in sexual risk behavior between GSN app users and non-users. However, when examining app users by time before meeting, those with a shorter time before meeting were more impulsive and more likely to report sexual risk behavior. These findings highlight the importance of understanding GSN app use in the spread of STIs/HIV among emerging adults.

published proceedings


altmetric score

  • 4

author list (cited authors)

  • Hahn, H. A., You, D. S., Sferra, M., Hubbard, M., Thamotharan, S., & Fields, S. A.

citation count

  • 23

complete list of authors

  • Hahn, Hunter A||You, Dokyoung S||Sferra, Michale||Hubbard, Meagan||Thamotharan, Sneha||Fields, Sherecce A

publication date

  • March 2018