One topic that continues to interest me is the role social media like Twitter, Facebook, and Myspace play in social development for adolescents and young adults.  A recent study covered by Science Daily discusses the role online interventions can play in decreasing the display of risky behaviors on Myspace profiles.  Currently, 54% of Myspace users have chosen to display suggestions sexual behavior, substance use or violence on their profile.  For the study, one of the researchers (whose Myspace profile belongs to “Dr. Meg”) sent a message through Myspace’s service to 190 randomly selected 18 year olds whose profiles displayed such content discussing the dangers of personal self disclosures on the internet and containing a link to an online resource for STD testing.  To quote from the article:

Three months after the MySpace e-mail intervention, the same online profiles were evaluated again for references to sex and substance use, as well as any changes in profile security settings (switching from a “public” to a “private” profile). At the beginning of this study, 54 percent of subjects referenced sex and 85 percent referenced substance use. After the email intervention, 13 percent of the profiles decreased references to sex behaviors, and 26 percent decreased their substance use references. Ten percent of the profiles changed their security listings from “public” to “private,” and a total of 42 percent of the profiles implemented any of these three protective measures. Of those who received the email intervention females were most likely to eliminate sexual references.

The effectiveness of the somewhat annonomous digital intervention is striking to me.  What role do you think online interventions will play in the future?

Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center of Seattle (2009, January 7). Majority Of Teens Discuss Risky Behaviors On MySpace, Studies Conclude. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 29, 2009, from­ /releases/2009/01/090105175317.htm