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Teens Are Using a Growing Number of Online and Mobile Tools to Learn About Sexual Health and Avoid Unintended Pregnancy

Planned Parenthood Launches New Tumblr for Users to Submit Questions and Access Accurate Information
Just in Time for National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy

Nearly 40 percent of teens aged 14 to 17 are using digital technologies to seek out health related information1, including information on sexual health.  In response, a growing number of sexual health organizations are creating online and Smartphone-based tools aimed at providing reliable information and helping teens and young people prevent unintended pregnancy.

“Young people themselves can take a more proactive role in delaying pregnancy until they are ready to become parents, and there are a number of online tools that can help,” said Dr. Vanessa Cullins, Planned Parenthood Federation of America vice president for external medical affairs.  “Today’s technology makes it possible for young people looking for information to access it in multiple ways, and Planned Parenthood is determined to provide information to as many young people as possible.  We need to make sure that all young people have the information and access to services that are proven to reduce teen pregnancy rates.”

Most recently, PPFA launched PlannedParenthood.tumblr.com on the fast-growing micro-blogging social network favored by young audiences.

Designed to be a go-to source for accurate information about contraception, pregnancy prevention, and staying healthy in general, Planned Parenthood’s new Tumblr presence puts helpful, current, and engaging information in front of its followers on a daily basis and allows them to share it easily with their own online circles.  The blog also makes use of Tumblr’s built-in anonymous “Ask” feature, so users can submit questions to be potentially featured on the blog.  This new Tumblr account is just one tool in Planned Parenthood’s ongoing effort to reach young people where they are online in order to provide vital and accurate information.  In its first few days online, the new Tumblr gained over 15,000 followers, making it one of Planned Parenthood’s fastest growing social media presences ever.

The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy has also produced an online tool to help women avoid unplanned pregnancy:  the organization’s Bedsider tool is an online birth control support network for women 18-29, with the goal of helping women find the method of birth control that’s right for them and learn how to use it consistently and effectively.

Other Planned Parenthood online resources include

Teen Birth Rates in the U.S.

The United States has achieved sharp declines in pregnancy and childbearing over the past two decades.  From 2009 to 2010, the U.S. teen birth rate declined nine percent to a historic low; fewer babies were born to teenagers in 2010 than in any year since the mid-1940s.  However, the U.S. rate still far exceeds those of other developed countries.

“It’s wonderful to see the progress we’ve made in reducing teen pregnancy, and yet there is still work to be done,” said Leslie Kantor, PPFA’s vice president of education.  “Fortunately, we know that when teens have access to sex education, accurate information, and reliable contraceptives, they are much less likely to get pregnant.

“Another piece of good news is that both contraceptive use at first sex and dual contraceptive use are growing among sexually active teens.  Through our online and mobile tools, Planned Parenthood is working to reach as many young people as possible with information about contraception and the importance of protecting themselves against both pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.”

As the nation’s leading and most trusted provider of reproductive health care and sex education, Planned Parenthood works year-round to help teens prevent unintended pregnancy.  Every year, Planned Parenthood provides comprehensive sex education to more than 1.1 million people and plannedparenthood.org receives 33 million visits — most of them from people seeking health information.  Our nearly 800 health centers are a leading source of affordable birth control for women and men of all ages.

The National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy is organized by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy and is observed each year in May.

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1 Pew Internet & American Life Project (http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2010/Social-Media-and-Young-Adults/Part-4/1-Online-health-information.aspx?r=1)

2 The Planned Parenthood tool My Method allows online visitors to determine a suggested method of contraception by answering a few simple questions about your lifestyle and preferences (cost, effectiveness, the likelihood of side effects, etc).  The quiz results can be shared with a health care provider to aid in discussion about starting a new method.  There is also information about each method, including how you can get it and why different methods work for different people.  The widget is available in both English and Spanish, and was developed to respond to the perceived demand from our website visitors for more personalized information.

3 Planned Parenthood’s chat/text program is designed to reach youth and young adults at moments when worry levels about pregnancy or STDs might be high, such as following unprotected sex.  It allows young people to contact Planned Parenthood using the text function on their mobile phone or instant messaging on their computer or tablet.  In its first year, 51 percent of questions were from young adults aged 18-25 and 23 percent were from teens aged 17 and under.  The chat/text program is currently offered Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. – 10 p.m. ET, and Saturday from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

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Contacts

PPFA Media Office, 212-261-4433

Published: 05.01.12

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