Same message, new media seems to be the focus of the Internet Sexuality Information Services, or ISIS. Featured on NPR today, ISIS in particular is trying to reach out to kids with a "legitimate" message about the risks and benefits of sexual activity via media they use every day.
I say "legitimate" not as a way of passing judgment, but because it's a term used by Deb Levine, one of the principles in ISIS who was interviewed by NPR. As she points out, in their largely urban experience, simply telling kids how bad sex is simply doesn't ring true with most sexually-active teens. Rather, they have found that honest, straight-forward talk about disease, pregnancy, and sexuality with this group of inherent risk-takers seems to be more effective.
Perhaps talk is the wrong term, however. Ms. Levine pointed out that during one session with a group of teens, all of whom were texting each other "under their desks", it became obvious that this medium, as well as podcasting, social media, etc., were more likely to provide students with a safe and anonymous forum to ask questions and get information.
As noted on the ISIS blog, a particular touch-screen device for teen clinical intakes provides one example of how technology can reach kids effectively:
As long as privacy for young people can be assured as they are using the tool, and that doctors have alone time with their teen patients, the tool could definitely help open some doors for discussion. Family and peer support around sexual health are crucial to young people's decision making abilities, but there are growing technology trends (texting!) that encourage young people to take more control and get what they need in intimidating clinical settings.
Hopefully, ISIS will make data available soon that gives an indication of whether their approaches are more successful than those using traditional media and/or abstinence-only programs.