Public Health, Tweens and The Kardashians

Public health in social media can be the key in communicating important public health information to broad audiences. This includes Twitter, Facebook , Snapchat and Kardashian savvy youngsters. True prevention, the cornerstone of public health, starts in the younger generation. And why not use a communication channel these youngsters are already spending so much (all) of their time on? If public health professionals can effectively incorporate messages like safe sex, and anti-smoking campaigns into mainstream pop culture we may be able to reach a whole new generation, and start earlier with prevention based health campaigns.

The One Change Campaign wrote that, “Health department staff still go to health fairs and schools and talk to business and community leaders about making “one small change,” but by having online tools involved, more people are likely to both hear and talk about the message. It’s also a population where, if they like the message, they’re going to help you spread it. That’s been something really great, to see how it spreads virally.” Social media can be a powerful tool in spreading important media, messages and movements, and if the public picks on something and is drawn to it, they will spread that message faster than any other media. But, the question remains as to whether or not we are using social media in the most effective way possible as public health officials.

According to Pew Research Center, an organization that researches social media use, 81% of 18-29 year olds use Facebook, 53% use Instagram and 37%. Using all three media outlets as a way to deliver public health messages seems obvious and an enormous opportunity to reach the younger generation. But, many organizations, like county departments of public health, don’t reach this demographic.

Although public health officials have many made useful tools out of social media, from emergency preparedness to aggregation of data for predicting flu outbreaks, much of these advances seem to miss out on the opportunity to integrate youth participation in key preventative areas. How can we as a new generation of public health professionals change this?

Incorporation of public health into popular culture might be the answer.  Kim K. is paid over $100,000 per tweet to name drop fashion and makeup brands she uses. What if we use her image and popularity to reach out to kids about the dangers of smoking cigarettes? Regardless of the strategy, as social media usage grows exponentially, we as public health officials should be aware of the opportunities that are being created to make public health as popular as the Kardashians.

References:

http://www.ihealthbeat.org/insight/2013/public-health-departments-use-social-media-for-education-and-monitoring

http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/01/09/demographics-of-key-social-networking-platforms-2/

http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/710011

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6 thoughts on “Public Health, Tweens and The Kardashians

  1. Hi Jennifer! Looks like we chose a similar topic (celebrities) to write about. I completely agree with you – if kids and teenagers are already spending so much time on social media, might as well make the most use of it. I also agree with you that social media isn’t going anywhere, and will only continue to grow, so public health officials should use it to their advantage. Also, the picture you chose is awesome 😉 Definitely caught my attention.

  2. You did a great job of having a catchy introduction and picture. It had me reading until the end to find out how you made the connection. Nice idea about public endorsements to promote public health messages.

  3. Great use of a photo! If I saw the photo in a thumbnail among a list of other other stories, I’d probably click on it just because it’s so funny. Also, your content draws readers in with pop culture and thoughtfully links it to opportunities to improve health. Very nice post!

  4. Excellent picture! can’t help but have a little fun laughing at the Kardashians… Drew me in with that and had me reading away – there is something in that!

  5. This is a really great post Jennifer. I love the idea! I wasn’t quite sure how your picture was going to relate to what you were talking about but I liked it. The only thing I would add to it is that Kim K gets 100,000 per tweet but what would the public health company be getting back? Reaching 9 million followers? Getting donations? It might just be that she tweets that “smoking is like tots gross” but will it make a measureable change? Could we monitor it? Just some ideas.

  6. Way to draw in your audience with a captivating image! I like how you brought up the idea of using social media in public health within a preventative health context, which is where a greater focus needs to be placed to improve overall health outcomes. I wonder if celebrities would want money to discuss public health topics or if they would be willing to promote it out of the goodness of their heart and a desire to be of service to humanity? Great first blog post and way to tie in the what you learned this week.

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