Aims: Social media use is widespread in teens. But, few studies have developed recommendations on how social media can be used to promote teen health. The Philadelphia Ujima™ Coalition funded by the Office on Women’s Health conducted a needs assessment to explore social media as a health communication tool. This study aimed to identify (1) social media utilization practices, (2) strategies to effectively engage teens on social media, and (3) recommendations for teen health promotion on social media.
Methods: A cross-sectional mixed methods study design was used, in which a survey was administered to 152 youth (ages: 13–18years). In addition, four focus groups were conducted with 26 teens to elaborate on the quantitative findings.
Results: We found that while 94.6% of teens use social media, only 3.5% reported using it to seek health-related information. However, when asked about specific topics (i.e., fitness, sexual health, nutrition), 66.7% to 91.7% reported health information seeking. Although, many teens were not able to identify reliable sources of information. Teens felt health messages should be attractive and tailored.
Conclusion: Social media holds promise as an effective health communication tool; however, information must be reliable and composed of attractive messages tailored to meet teens’ diverse needs. The findings from this study are indicative of the critical need to further explore how social media platforms enhance usage in health promotion.
Plaisime, Marie; Robertson-James, Candace; Mejia, Lidyvez; Núñez, Ana; Wolf, Judith; and Reels, Serita, "Social Media and Teens: A Needs Assessment Exploring the Potential Role of Social Media in Promoting Health" (2020). Public Health and Nutrition Faculty work. 7.
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