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


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.

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

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Correspondence to Robin Stevens.

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Stevens, R., Bleakley, A., Hennessy, M. et al. #digital hood: Engagement with Risk Content on Social Media among Black and Hispanic Youth. J Urban Health 96, 74–82 (2019).

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  • Social media
  • Youth
  • Sexual health
  • Substance
  • Alcohol
  • Drug
  • Violence