How Can You Find Trusted Resources on Sex, Love, and Relationships?


How Can You Find Trusted Resources on Sex, Love, and Relationships?

February 24, 2020
A black mother with her two children, all smiling

Don’t let the idea of talking to the young people in your life about sex, love, and relationships make your knees buckle or your stomach churn. You don’t need to cover it all in one go and there’s no rule that says you have to have all of the answers. Conversations about these important topics should happen over time and should become a dialogue where you’re both learning new things. However, it’s important to know that you can trust the information you’re finding online. Here are four tips on how to find trusted resources.

Look at the Source

After typing your question into Google, you click the first link in the results. Just because something shows up at the top of that page doesn’t mean it’s the most reliable source though.

An easy way to learn a lot about a website is to check the domain. The domain is essentially the address of a website, but it can also tell you who owns the website. Does the URL end in “.gov,” “.org,” or “.edu?” If so, it’s likely a trusted resource sponsored by a federal or state agency, a professional organization that provides education-focused content, or an educational institution such as a university. 

Unlike for-profit sites (that will end in “.com”) that exist to make money, these websites are usually not out to sell you anything, which means their information is generally considered unbiased and therefore more reliable. 

Look at the Author

For many questions about birth control, medical conditions, and sex, it is important that you find medically accurate information. When looking for answers on these topics it's a good idea to prioritize content authored by a licensed medical professional or health care provider. These people will likely have an "MD," "RN," "or PhD" after their last name in the byline. They have the insight, expertise, and authority to speak accurately on the topic of medicine.                                                                                                                           

Some personal blogs or other sites, such as magazines or newspapers, may end in “.com,” but host articles authored by people with personal experience on the topic they’re writing about. If you’re looking for stories to share or learn from these authors may be a better resource for you than medical professionals. This is especially true if you and your young person are talking about relationships.

If you cannot find any information on the page that reveals who wrote the article you're reading, you can consider it a sign to stay skeptical of its content. 

Look at the Publication Date 

So, you’ve looked at the URL and it checks out. You’ve taken a gander at the author and they check out too. Are you done? Have you found a trusted resource? Not quite yet. It’s important to also look at the article’s publication date before deciding that you’ve got a trusted resource.

Medical science changes all the time and researchers make new discoveries regularly. Many magazines, newspapers, and medical journals cover advancements as they happen. So, when you enter the words “birth control,” into your search bar you’ll likely turn up results both new and old. And old articles might contain outdated information or data.

Before spending too much time reading anything, take a look at the article's date of publication or posting. This will usually appear at the top of the post, near the author's name, but it can also be found at the very bottom of the page. Generally speaking, the newer the article, the more likely it is up to date and safe to consult. The NIH explains, “Older information isn’t useless, but using the most current, evidence-based information is best.”

Don’t be Afraid to Look at New Media

Finally, don’t feel like you have to stick to medical texts, peer-reviewed journal articles, or dry lists of facts. Social media sites such as Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube can have trusted resources too. Though you’ll likely want to do more research on the authors on these platforms to ensure they’re reliable, using social media may help you better connect with your young person as they’re probably already familiar with the platforms.

A few accounts to start looking at include: Mama Doctor Jones (run by an OB-GYN and mother of four), The Period Doctor (run by an OB-GYN), Six Minute Sex Ed (run by a sex education teacher), and The Minority Sex Report (run by two sex education teachers).