As a widely professed Sex Geek, I am a big fan of Sex Education. So naturally I was thrilled to see My Sex Doctor (MSD) on the interwebs- a new app (for both Apple and Android) by a small group of people in the UK who believe that, “Sexuality is a fact of life, it just happens. The same should be true for sex education!” A good start.
The app is split into three categories. The first two, “Topics” and “100 Things You Must Know” answer commonly-asked and interest-peaking questions, while the “Dictionary” offers pretty self explanatory information. What really leapt out at me when I was having a browse is how diverse this sex-ed app is. Aimed at teenagers, MSD actually has a really great (and not at all condescending) idea of what should be included in Sex Education. It covers the conventional topics of anatomy, STIs and pregnancy but also flirting, unhealthy relationships, LGBT (unfortunately no ‘I’) identities, pleasure and orgasms, as well as practices rarely mentioned in the classroom such as oral sex, anal sex and masturbation. It is extremely cool that these developers a) understand these issues themselves b) talked about them in very open, non-judgmental language and c) understood the importance of normalizing the discourse around them, especially when talking to teenagers. One other thing I would have really liked to see included was a discussion – any discussion – on the difference between porn and sex. As the image young people first see and start watching pornography lowers, I think it’s important to start a discussion around it, something this app just didn’t seem to think of.
Everything they’ve included would be good additions to any sex-ed program for sure, and for the most part content doesn’t seem to be the issue with this app. The only time the app feels a bit incomplete is its distinct lack of pictures. Naturally I don’t think that a sex-ed app aimed at teenagers should be by any means pornographic, but when all a girl has is a hand mirror and insecurities, it can be good to see a diagram of what everything is and where it usually sits. Even though the colours are peppy and the interface is easy, big blocks of text may have the affect of turning off their young target audience. And that’s the thing that seems to permeate the app – the creators seem to have been so fixated on making sure checking their facts and their tone that the finished product hasn’t really got the sense of fun or being ‘one of the kids’ that it really could have achieved through using such a new form of media. When starting conversations about what is still a taboo field, I think that information sounds best peer-to-peer. MSD still sounds like your PE teacher – a cool PE teacher nonetheless, but I would much rather hear it from a cool older sister.
Basically, my impression of MSD is that it’s a good start. It has its head in the right place and you can tell that the creators were really trying hard, but it just needs a bit of workshopping. It would do it some good it to move out from an IT office and onto the phones of some actual teenagers and then see what they think. The information is definitely there, and is fine for the older ones of us who just have a couple questions, but I’m not sure if it’s quite on the same channel as today’s teens.