SOCIAL MEDIA’S CHALLENGE TO THE PROMOTION OF YOUNG PEOPLE’S SEXUAL HEALTH

Paul Byron

Abstract


Drawing from young people’s accounts of Facebook practice, this paper challenges current public health attempts to promote sexual health via social media, arguing that health interventions must engage with the complexities of young people’s online intimacies.
Social media plays a significant role in young people’s everyday practices of intimacy and friendship. Health promotion strategies increasingly note the value of social media in young people’s lives and often approach social network sites (SNS) as channels through which to access young people. In utilising social media, such initiatives rarely deviate from public health social marketing paradigms committed to developing and disseminating static messages to their target population. While these strategies often include consultations with young people, such as through campaign development focus groups, this does not extend to seeing young people as partners, stakeholders, or co- producers of social media interventions.
This paper will begin by arguing that young people’s sexual health practices are contexualised by, and mediated through, everyday practices of friendship and intimacy. Focusing on Australian cultures of young people’s heterosex, and drawing from focus groups conducted in the state of New South Wales, I argue that to engage with social media, sexual health interventions from government, non-government, and other research institutions must reform their traditional approaches.

Full Text:

PDF