Social Media in the Sexual Lives of African American and Latino Youth: Challenges and Opportunities in the Digital Neighborhood

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2439

Article | Open Access

Social Media in the Sexual Lives of African American and Latino Youth: Challenges and Opportunities in the Digital Neighborhood


  • Robin Stevens School of Nursing, University of Pennsylvania, USA
  • Jamie Dunaev Department of Childhood Studies, Rutgers University-Camden, USA
  • Ellen Malven Department of Childhood Studies, Rutgers University-Camden, USA
  • Amy Bleakley Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania, USA
  • Shawnika Hull Milken Institute School of Public Health, The George Washington University, USA


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Abstract:  There has been significant interest in the role of social media in the lives of adolescents, particularly as it relates to sexual risk. Researchers have focused on understanding usage behaviors, quantifying effects of social media exposure and activity, and using social media to intervene. Much of this work has focused on college students and non-minority youth. In this paper, we examine the growing body of literature around social media use among US minority youth and its intersection with sexual risk behavior. We introduce the concept of the “digital neighborhood” and examine the intersection of social media and sexual health in two domains: 1) sexual content in social media and 2) evidence of social media effects on sexual behavior. Finally, we discuss the opportunities and challenges for researchers and practitioners engaging youth of color.

Keywords:  African-American; digital neighborhood; health disparities; Latino; sexual health; social media; youth

Published:   16 June 2016


DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/mac.v4i3.524


© Robin Stevens, Jamie Dunaev, Ellen Malven, Amy Bleakley, Shawnika Hull. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.