Game helps teens learn about safe sex

HOUSTON According to a UT Health Science Center study, more than two-thirds of high school seniors have had sex and almost 40 percent of teens who are sexually active say they don't use condoms.

"I know some kids that's in middle school that's having sex," said 16-year-old teenager Justin Stevens.

"Lately, it's been the age of, surprise to say, 12, 13 and maybe 11," said 18-year-old Melanie Sia Harrison.

While that may be startling to most parents, researchers at the UT school of public health say they aren't surprised. In a recent study, they found that 10-percent of 6th graders and 15 percent of 7th graders are already having sex.

"There was a need to intervene with young people. And there was a need to do it at a very early age," said Ross Shegog with UT School of Public Health.

They did it by creating a series of online games to help prevent teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. It's called, "It's your game -- keep it real."

The games work like a regular video game. But they're chocked full of useful information aimed at specifically at middle school students.

"It's interactive and its fun and we provide them with skills to be able to make better choices," said Dr. Susan Tortolero with UT School of Public Health.

Teens say it's an effective way to reach them.

"Most kids our age stay on the computer 24/7 anyway," said 15-year-old Tierria Young.

"If they're gonna be out doing what they're doing, they need to have knowledge of what they're doing," said Harrison.

Which would help give parents some peace of mind.

"I believe it will take some of that mystery out of sex and I believe that when you take mystery out of it, they'll be less likely to sneak around and see what they can get out of it," said parent Robin Burke.

The game is available at some HISD schools. Dr. Tortolero says study results show it has been effective -- delaying sexual initiation up to two years and it's proven to be especially effective with girls.

Check out the online game It's Your Game. They will need to type in the access code B23 to get in.

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