Introducing Alex, your new chatbot for sex education

Can traditional sex education curricula and teaching methods meet the needs of today’s youth, as they inquire about their changing bodies, thoughts and behaviours?

As education professionals, parents and members of an increasingly digitised society, this is a question that we are likely to ask ourselves as we witness younger generations unrestrictedly accessing a multitude of sensitive information via digital tools and methods. The websites and platforms that they frequent on an hourly basis provide a framework for these youths to learn more about themselves in a completely anonymous and confidential environment.

However, the spread of dangerous content such as fake news about STDs or early exposure to pornography is putting this generation at risk. Health professionals have also warned that much of the content consulted online represents a distorted or even false image of reality, which is all the more harmful for the young people that feel unprepared when confronted with these issues in their daily lives.

Nevertheless, it is indisputable that digitalisation has allowed a global emancipation of the new generation by abolishing certain taboos and by liberating speech.

It is in this context that the Erasmus+ project Alex: The SexEdBot has been developed. The project ethos is to administer quality Sexual and Reproductive Health Education (SRH) through an innovative chatbot in order to provide private and non-biased answers to youth’s queries about sexual and gender identities, sexually transmitted diseases and other subjects related to their sexual and reproductive health. The topics covered will be tackled with a sex-positive, gender-blind and scientifically-accurate lens as we would like to reach those young people that have been underrepresented in traditional sex education curricula, such as young women, LGBTQI+ youth and youth with learning disorders.

Through the creation of our chatbot and complementary tools, the project will also provide training and resources to youth workers with whom young people engage and equip them with the pedagogical/technical skills needed to purposefully use the chatbot for the administration and teaching of holistic sex education.

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