Public Health

Child Injury Prevention Messages on Social Media

Social media is a powerful tool in today’s society and can be influential to children and adolescents. Health care providers and organizations can use these platforms to spread positive messages to their patients, their patients’ guardians, and the public. However, pediatric injury organizations with large followings on social media infrequently post about proper injury prevention.

A new content analysis delved into these social media posts to determine whether more can be done. Coauthor of the analysis, Jennifer A. Manganello, PhD, MPH, who is a professor in the Health Policy department and Management and Behavior department at the University at Albany School of Public Health in Albany, New York, answered our questions about the study.1

Consultant360: We know that social media may play a role in pediatric conditions such as depression and anxiety. How does your study add to this growing body of knowledge?

Jennifer Manganello: While there are a growing number of studies about social media and health, almost none have focused on child injury prevention. Our study adds to the literature by examining how Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram present messages about pediatric injury. We looked at multiple topics related to child injury prevention including water safety, poisoning, car seat safety, and furniture and TV tip overs, among others.

We reviewed social media posts from 35 organizations. Parent-nominated organizations (those mentioned by mothers in a survey we conducted) had a significantly higher number of followers than any other category. However, very few social media posts from these organizations focused on pediatric injury prevention (3% on Facebook, 2% on Twitter, and 1% on Instagram). Children’s hospitals also had few pediatric injury posts. Pediatric injury organizations had the greatest percentage of injury prevention posts but had fewer followers. 

We encourage more organizations focused on pediatric topics to promote safety messages on their social media feeds.

C360: How did this study come about?

JM: Lara McKenzie, the lead author on the larger study, works at the Center for Injury Research and Policy at the Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. She kept seeing social media posts that had conflicting images. In other words, there would be a post about safe sleep but would show a crib with crib bumpers, which are not recommended. Or there would be a post about biking safety, but the child would not be wearing a helmet.

C360: Can you give us an example of an appropriate social media post for these organizations? What images would be appropriate on social media?

JM: A good post would be one that has an action-oriented measure parents can take or explains specifically what a parent can do to prevent a particular type of injury. For instance, for biking safety, ensure a child is wearing a helmet. An image that shows a child correctly wearing a bicycle helmet would be ideal to show with this message.

C360: In your opinion, what are the best practices for child injury prevention? What role does the health care provider play?

JM: Injuries are the leading cause of death for individuals aged 1 to 19 years. Parents and caregivers can do a lot to protect children from injuries. There are simple injury-prevention practices that can protect children and even the entire family, such as installing working smoke alarms on every level and near every sleeping area in a home. Locking up and storing medicines and household cleaners up and away is another way to protect children from poisoning. 
 

Although social media can promote such messages, health care providers are very influential to parents and caregivers. They play an important role when encouraging safety behaviors to protect infants, toddlers, and children.

Reference:

  1. Manganello JA, McKenzie LB, Roberts K. A content analysis of child injury prevention messages on social media. Paper presented at: American Public Health Association’s 2019 Annual Meeting and Expo; November 2-6, 2019; Philadelphia, PA. https://apha.confex.com/apha/2019/meetingapp.cgi/Paper/447384. Accessed December 6, 2019.

 

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