Relationships in the Digital World

As greater numbers of Americans use social and other networked technologies, they increasingly use these tools to create and maintain their personal and intimate relationships. These technologies can play both positive and negative roles in personal relationships. Stalking and digital domestic abuse are two aspects of negative experiences online. For example, stalking is a disturbingly common experience. A recent national study of 16,500 adults in the United States found that one in six women and one in 19 men have been stalked to the point of creating fear. A better understanding of how dating abuse is perpetrated and experienced through technology, particularly across age groups, is critical to future prevention efforts. In collaboration with Amanda Lenhart and the Data & Society Research Institute, we will conduct a nationally representative landline and mobile phone survey of 3,0 …

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SMS Turkey (Cebiniz Birakin Diyor)

Smoking represents a huge public health burden in Turkey: An estimated 51-63% of Turkish men and 24-26% of Turkish women 15 years of age and older smoke. Evidence-based smoking cessation programs are becoming more common in Turkey, but more work needs to be done. We developed and tested the first text messaging-based smoking cessation program in the Middle East. SMS Turkey (or Cebiniz Birakin Diyor in Turkish) was tested among adult smokers in Ankara, Turkey, and was associated with increased quitting rates for women and light smokers especially. This program was conducted in partnership with colleagues at Hacettepe University.

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Teen Health and Technology

Because of contextual factors such as prejudice and social isolation, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth consistently report victimization rates higher than heterosexual youth. It is possible that LGBT youth may similarly face increased risk for victimization online. Alternatively, because the Internet equalizes the playing field by allowing people to communicate and find social support that may be lacking in face-to-face relationships, the Internet may represent a positive influence in the lives of LGBT youth. Using an innovative online data collection strategy that enabled us to over-recruit LGBT youth as part of a larger sample of young Internet users, the Teen Health and Technology study examined the potential risk and protective factors that Internet use poses to adolescent health. Findings have applied implications for adolescent health research by identifying pos …

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Cape Town Adolescent Health Survey

HIV/AIDS is a major contributor to morbidity and mortality in South Africa, where an estimated one in five adults are HIV positive.  Young people bear a particularly high disease burden: 34% of new cases of HIV occur among those 15-24 years of age.  Moreover, it is estimated that if the current HIV infection rates remain stable in South Africa, 50% of 15-year-olds alive today will die from AIDS.  The impact that HIV is having on South African adolescents cannot be overstated.  Several researchers have recently noted that adolescent-focused interventions in South Africa are not having an impact as effective as desired.  Certainly, interventions that are low-cost, scalable, and modifiable to reflect changing behavioral trends, such as the Internet and text messaging, should be considered as additional tools to add to the arsenal of available HIV prevention programs. We conducted a survey i …

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Harassment and bullying on the Internet are serious adolescent health issues associated with significant personal challenge for some children. CyberBully411 provides accurate and helpful information about Internet harassment. It was the first of its kind to be designed especially for older adolescents. The site has been featured on the American Library Association’s “Dealing with Cyberbullies: Tips for Kids”. YPulse, a popular daily email update exclaims the website is “the slickest anti-bullying website I’ve seen, and packed with great info/resources”. The project was funded by the Community Technology Foundation of California.

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