The Kinsey Reporter App: Reaching Out to the Mobile World
The Kinsey Institute, in partnership with the IU School of Informatics and Computing, has re-released the Kinsey Reporter, a mobile survey platform for collecting and reporting anonymous data about sex and other intimate behaviors. The app allows anyone with a mobile phone to report on specific observations in their lives and communities, from public displays of affection to personal sexual behavior and experiences. The ‘reporters’ are also able to see and explore the anonymous, accumulated data.
Reports made by anonymous ‘citizen scientists’ will be used for research and shared with the public at kinseyreporter.org.
The Kinsey Reporter App was developed by Filippo Menczer and his team at the Center for Complex Networks and Systems Research (CNetS, part of the IU School of Informatics and Computing) at Indiana University. Kinsey Institute researchers Julia Heiman, Erick Janssen, Stephanie Sanders, Justin Garcia and Virginia Vitzthum contributed survey content, and plan to add more surveys in the near future.
The apps were originally released late in 2012 and immediately pulled by Indiana University legal department because of concerns about privacy and confidentiality. The app was verified to be secure and anonymous, and is now available for public use.
After downloading the app, users can contribute activities and observations on topics such as sexual activity, public displays of affection, flirting, unwanted experiences, fetishes and birth control use.
No information identifying users submitting the reports is collected or stored, but the time and general location of the report is collected into the database.
Users have the option of selecting their own geographic preference for the report by choosing city/town, state/region or country. After a sufficient number of entries from a location, the anonymous, aggregate data are displayed on the website and in the app.
"People are natural observers. It's part of being social, and using mobile apps is an excellent way to involve citizen scientists," said Julia Heiman, Kinsey Institute Director. "We expect to get new insights into sexuality and relationships today. What do people notice, what are they involved in, and what can they relate to us about their lives and their communities?" Developer and CNetS director Filippo Menczer called development of the citizen reporting platform an opportunity to gather information on important issues that may have been difficult to examine in the past.
"This new platform will allow us to explore issues that have been challenging to study until now, such as the prevalence of unreported sexual violence in different parts of the world, or the correlation between various sexual practices like condom use, for example, and the cultural, political, religious or health contexts in particular geographical areas. These were some of our initial motivations for the project," he said.
Surveys will change over time, and users can view aggregated reports by geographic region via interactive maps, timelines or charts. All of these reporting venues can be manipulated with filters that remove or add data based on specific survey topics and questions selected by the user.
The ‘reporter’ directs users to sexual health information on Kinsey Confidential, and anyone can explore findings through the Kinsey Reporter website.