Condom Codes Let Users ‘Check In’ to Safe Sex

Mar 1, 2012 3:17pm
ht planned parenthood condoms qr code ll 120301 wblog Condom Codes Let Users Check In to Safe Sex

Condoms with QR codes allow users to 'check in' whenever and wherever they're having protected sex. (Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest)

Call it the digital version of a tie on the doorknob. A new website lets the tech savvy tell the world when (and where) they’re having safe sex.

To celebrate National Condom Week (Feb. 14 to Feb. 21),  Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest dispersed 55,000 condoms at community colleges and universities in western Washington. Each condom wrapper had a sticker with a QR barcode, which could  be scanned with a smartphone  to check in to wheredidyouwearit.com to  let people know  they’re having safe sex.

“Wheredidyouwearit.com is like Foursquare for people who don’t want a sexually transmitted infection,” PPGNW said on its website.

Visitors to the site can  spill the details of their latest sexual encounters — anonymously — providing their gender, sexual orientation, age and location  at the time of their tryst.  The location  can be a street address,  or get somewhat juicier with such details as ”Kitchen,” “the Great Outdoors” or “In a hot tub.”  Visitors can also note whether they’ve talked with their partners about condom use and STDs.

The site’s interactive map keeps exact locations somewhat hidden, marking a check-in within three or four blocks of the actual location.

According to the site’s map, the condoms have already traveled from coast to coast and to six continents.

Nathan Engebretson, PPGNW’s new media coordinator, said the site has already had 65,000 visitors and 4,500 check-ins, with 20 percent of the traffic coming from mobile devices.

While the project may seem to be just another social media example of  TMI,  Engebretson said the point was to get people talking about safe sex, and to “normalize” and celebrate condom use.

“This isn’t about bragging. It’s not about digital notches in your bedpost,” Engebretson told ABC News. “Even if people have no desire to check in, they’re still getting the sense of how many people like them use condoms.”

PPGNW’s target audience was college students and 20-somethings, a group more likely to use social media — and condoms. A 2010 study from sexual health researchers at Indiana University found that U.S. teenagers and young adults were more likely to use condoms during sex than Americans over age 40.

But Engebretson said PPGNW wants to know more about what makes people use condoms , or not. He said the next phase of the project would be to analyze the data from various groups and tailor a marketing campaign to work more condoms into sex for those people.

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