Social Networking Can Send Prevention Message to Adolescents

Tuesday, April 14th, 2009
This post was written by Melanie Matthews

As the parent of an adolescent and a 20-year-old, I was heartened last week to read that more parents are having substance-abuse related conversations with their adolescents, a practice associated with reduced substance abuse in this age group. Unfortunately, this SAMHSA report (a featured story in this week’s Healthcare Business Weekly Update) also found that adolescents are receiving fewer prevention messages through media sources.

Could it be that these messages are being placed in all the wrong places? According to a recent article in Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescence, more than 90 percent of adolescents have Internet access and approximately 50 percent use social networking sites. In my unscientific opinion, they’re also watching less TV — recording what they want to watch and then fast-forwarding through the commercials. Instead, public service organizations should create a presence on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and other social networking sites to deliver prevention messages where this vulnerable age group is — and rely on them to spread the word virally, which is what they do best. You can create special interest groups, pages, quizzes, videos, applications and more to get their attention and that of their friends and followers.

If you haven’t yet tried these sites, you can start by following us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. In time, your organization may “Like This.”

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