Where did you wear it? QR Codes on Condoms: ‘Check-Ins’ Let You Share Your Safe Sex
If you’re a social media junkie, you likely share plenty of your personal life online already. But are you “checking in” when you have sex?
A new site, launched by Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest (PPGNW), allows you to share with the world where you’re doing the deed. You can even check in while you’re doing it — if you’ve got a smartphone and the right kind of condom.
In honor of National Condom Week last week, PPGNW recently distributed 55,000 condoms with QR codes — scannable barcodes — to colleges, universities and Planned Parenthood locations in Washington State. Users can scan the QR code on the condom wrapper with their smartphone and report their location to wheredidyouwearit.com — it’s “like Foursquare for people who don’t want a sexually transmitted infection,” said PPGNW — where an interactive map pinpoints exactly where (down to the city and state at least) people are safely getting frisky.
According to PPGNW, the new safe-sex campaign has taken off: people have already checked in from 48 states and six continents. (You can check in directly on the site, even if you don’t have a QR-coded condom.) You can also rate the quality of your latest sexual escapade on a five-point scale from “Things can only improve from here” to “Ah-maz-ing — Rainbows exploded and mountains trembled.”
The site is searchable by gender, orientation, age, location and other filters, in case you’re curious about what your neighbors have been up to. But the real goal of “Where Did You Wear It” is, of course, to promote safe sex and to normalize condom use by showing how common it is. “Condoms are an essential tool in preventing unintended pregnancy and stopping the spread of sexually transmitted infections including HIV,” said Nathan Engebretson, PPGNW’s new media coordinator, in a statement. “We hope the site promotes discussions within relationships about condoms and helps to remove perceived stigmas that some people may have about condom use.”
The interactive map and sex ratings are actually a little hokey — not as illuminating as you’d think — but the overall effort is a noble one. Recent research shows that teens are increasingly using condoms at first sex (80% of teen boys now do so), but the numbers aren’t perfect yet. And data also suggest that many people don’t actually know how to use a condom correctly. A study published this month in the journal of Sexual Health, which reviewed previous studies conducted in 14 countries, found that condom users made some common mistakes: failing to use condoms throughout sex, not leaving space or not squeezing air from the tip of the condom, putting condoms on upside down, using non-water-based lubricants, and withdrawing incorrectly.
“We chronically underestimate how complicated condom use can be,” said Richard Crosby, the lead editor of Sexual Health‘s special issue on condom use, in a news release. “It involves the use of a condom, while negotiating the condom use and sex with a partner all at the same time.”
Used correctly, condoms are 98% effective in preventing pregnancy and greatly decrease the spread of sexual transmitted infections. Wheredidyouwearit.com offers information on how to use condoms the right way and gives users a list of nearby Planned Parenthood health centers where condoms are available.
But not everyone agrees with the new PPGNW initiative. “Shame on them,” James Bascom, a campus activist with Tradition, Family and Property Student Action, told LifeSiteNews.com. “Our college students need purity, not promiscuity.”
For its part, PPGNW says it is targeting college students and millennials who are already comfortable with social media in hopes of spreading the word about healthy sex and making young people “proud to wear protection.” Says PPGNW: “Sex happens. We’re not encouraging you to have sex or not have sex. We’re just encouraging people to be safer in their activities.”