QR-code condoms: Tracking teenage trysts

QR-code condoms: Tracking teenage trysts

Summary: Safe sex: Now shared by teenagers through QR codes, Twitter and Facebook.

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What do you do afterwards? Roll over and go to sleep, or record your location and 'conquest' on a smartphone? A new QR-code scheme encourages you to do the latter, and is aimed at the younger generation.

Far from its humble beginnings in the automotive industry, now these matrix barcodes, scannable if you use a QR-code reader, are now beginning to appear on condom wrappers in the United States. Why? To allow the users to post and record the location of their sexual activity online for the world to see.

No, it's not an app to find a partner or compete against your friends' 'scores'. Instead, it is an attempt made by the Seattle-area organisation of Planned Parenthood to promote safer sex, targeting young people who are 'already comfortable with social media to promote healthy sexuality and to be "proud to wear protection"'.

Recently, the Planned Parenthood group have launched WhereDidYouWearIt.com, an initiative aimed at promoting the use of contraception through a medium many teenagers are familiar with -- social media. A promotional banner reads:

Did you just use a condom to protect yourself against unintended pregnancy, HIV and other sexually transmitted infections?

YOU GO, TIGER!

Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest (PPGNW) recently distributed 55,000 of the condoms, equipped with QR code stickers, to community colleges and universities throughout western Washington.

Once users scan the barcode through a smartphone, they are connected to a mobile website -- the scheme taking tips from similar location recorders such as Foursquare or Facebook Places. Once logged in, teenagers (or anyone for that matter) can anonymously 'check in' their sexual encounter.

Users are able to input their location, details such as gender, partner, relationship status and even rate their experience. In order to preserve a level of anonymity, no names can be shared or collected.

The concept behind the map and publicly-searchable record is to show that safe sex happens, and to try and promote it by normalizing condom use, and perhaps by appealing to teenage natures by making a game out of a necessity. An example of data that can be input with the menu options could be:

New York, a 20 - 29 girl and guy, whose 'relationship is getting serious', who 'have not talked about safer sex, condoms or STIs', uses condoms because 'my partner tells me to'. The safe sex was 'Ah-maz-ing - Rainbows exploded and mountains trembled', and he wore it 'in the hot tub'.

The check-ins appear on an interactive map that posts the approximate location of each safe-sex encounter, and has so far proved popular (at least in terms of checking in, whether it is due to a rise in condom use or novelty may be up for debate) -- receiving check-ins from 48 out of 50 states, and six continents.

"Condoms are an essential tool in preventing unintended pregnancy and stopping the spread of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV," said Nathan Engebretson, PPGNW New Media Coordinator.

"We hope the site promotes discussions within relationships about condoms and helps to remove perceived stigmas that some people may have about condom use. Where Did You Wear It attempts to create some fun around making responsible decisions."

Not only can the encounter be recorded on the map, but proud teenage Tweeters can send their link out in to the Twitterverse, or Facebook fans can make sure everyone knows what they've been up to.

Image credits: Screenshot C.Osborne/WDYDI

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4 comments
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  • What's next???

    A way for people to document their "solo performances" for the world to see? Sheesh!!!
    Userama
    • I think

      the majority of the data in this survey will be just that.
      Michael Kelly
  • Ridiculous article

    Is zdnet that desperate that they need to hire an English blogger to write science fiction about American sex habits?

    Blah...
    ScorpioBlack
  • SoundCloud...

    for humpers!

    How about linking to a SoundCloud soundtrack of the live "action" or, dare I suggest it, a video?

    Oh dear, something tells me this is coming eventually, and morality will dip another notch downwards...
    airmanchairman@...