Journal of Urban Health

, Volume 96, Issue 1, pp 74–82 | Cite as

#digital hood: Engagement with Risk Content on Social Media among Black and Hispanic Youth

  • Robin StevensEmail author
  • Amy Bleakley
  • Michael Hennessy
  • Jamie Dunaev
  • Stacia Gilliard-Matthews


The digital neighborhood is the amalgamation of the spaces online where youth connect with others. Just as Black and Hispanic youth live in neighborhoods that influence their health, they are also influenced by online digital neighborhoods. Youth are exposed to social media content featuring substance use, sexual risk, and violence, yet little is known about the extent to which youth engage with such content. Using a modified venue sampling strategy, we administered CASI surveys to 145 Black and Hispanic youth aged 13–24 living in low-income urban neighborhoods. Across social media platforms, respondents reported high levels of exposure to sexual, alcohol, drug, and violence-related content (65–84%). Users reported lower levels of engagement with risk-related content (on an engagement continuum), ranging from passive exposure to dissemination. While negative risks may be amplified in the digital neighborhood, youth appear to strategically limit their engagement with that content. However, because risk behavior messaging is common in these digital neighborhoods, these spaces provide opportunities for health promotion interventions.


Social media Youth Sexual health Substance Alcohol Drug Violence 



The study was funded, in part, by Rutgers University ‐Camden.


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Copyright information

© The New York Academy of Medicine 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robin Stevens
    • 1
    Email author
  • Amy Bleakley
    • 2
  • Michael Hennessy
    • 2
  • Jamie Dunaev
    • 3
  • Stacia Gilliard-Matthews
    • 3
  1. 1.University of Pennsylvania School of NursingPhiladelphiaUSA
  2. 2.University of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA
  3. 3.Rutgers University-CamdenCamdenUSA

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