Defense Date


Graduation Date

Spring 5-6-2021


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name



Counseling, Psychology, & Special Education


School of Education

Committee Chair

David Delmonico

Committee Member

William Casile

Committee Member

Matthew Joseph


Sexuality, Young Adults, Mobile Apps, Counseling, OSA


The internet has long been considered an accessible, anonymous, and affordable platform for sexuality and the emergence of smartphone applications has made facilitating online and offline sexual behaviors even easier for young adults. Despite the increase, there continues to be a lack of detailed research on the experiences of young adults who use these types of applications. This qualitative study explored how young adults use mobile applications to engage in online and offline sexual behaviors and the motivations and perceived benefits and risks of such behavior. This study, analyzed using inductive thematic analysis, completed eight semi-structed interviews with individuals between the ages of 18 and 25 who had reported using mobile applications for online or offline sexual purposes at least one time in the past five years.

This study identified four themes relating to how young adults use mobile applications for online and offline purposes: sexual exploration, casual sex, searching for romantic relationships, and developing friendships. This study identified three themes relating to the motivations behind use: convenience, connection, and seeking attention. Finally, this study identified seven themes relating to benefits and risks of using the apps: facilitating risk taking, feeling empowered, impeding deeper connections, vulnerability, being able to be yourself, conflicting family values, and breaking down barriers. Implications for practice, including increasing personal empowerment and navigating developmental transitions in young adulthood, are discussed in detail. In addition, limitations to the study and ideas for future research are discussed.