Roughly one in four teen girls become pregnant at least once by age 20 and fully half of all pregnancies in the United States are reported by women themselves as unplanned. Not too good.

By posting some intemperate thoughts about sex, love, relationships, pregnancy, childbearing, the media, public policy, our dogs, and other topics, we hope to spark a two-way discussion about how best to bring down the high rates of teen and unplanned pregnancy in this country. And who knows…from time to time, we might even offer up a few cogent thoughts that will be helpful.

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20-Somethings, Media, Popular Culture, Teens
December 16, 2014

Social Media
I’ve finally accepted that I’m a statistic.

No, not the kind of statistic you’re probably thinking about while reading a blog by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. I’m another statistic. I’m a Black Twitter-loving, Facebook deactivating-only-to-reactivate, proud and opinionated social media user. And apparently, I’m a part of the 96% of African American Internet users between the ages of 18-29 who use social networking sites.

According to Pew Research Center, though many African American teens and young adults don’t have as much computer access as individuals of other races, we use cell phones to lessen the digital divide. And when we’re connected, we’re really connected! Seventy-three percent of African Americans on the Internet use a social networking site of some kind. Eighty-eight percent of teen African American Internet users use a social networking site such as Facebook, and 39% report using Twitter (though they don’t consider Twitter a social networking site).

Interestingly enough, my generation and our younger teen siblings have similar interactions on social media—at least that’s been my experience. You can find us on Facebook, and it’s likely we’ll be following a celebrity, musician, or athlete—African American teens, in fact, are more likely to be doing so than their peers of any other race. A large percentage of African American Internet users can also be found on Twitter, where we take pride in our social media activism through hashtag trends.

With all of our chatter online, we’re an easily accessible group, if targeted in the right way. Nielsen’s 2013 African American Consumer Report stated that, “It is not language that distinguishes connectivity with African Americans, but a brand’s ability to understand the Black experience and cultural nuances that resonate with Blacks who are more receptive to messages when they feel valued.” After reading their statement, I immediately thought of McDonald’s sensational R&B commercial (including a song I’ve never forgotten the words to), and the day, only a few weeks ago, I searched for the video on YouTube to share it to my Facebook. It suddenly made sense to me.

Using social media to develop outreach plans to African American teens and young adults doesn’t have to be difficult. Find a common topic that we care about, make it culturally significant (as McDonald’s did by using a song that could easily be played on urban adult contemporary radio—the #1 format among African Americans), and hashtag it.  Take a look at some of the fast facts below:

  • Though African Americans are largely represented on Instagram, only 9% of African American teen social network users report using the site. Looking for teens? Find them on Facebook (91%) and Twitter (39%).
  • African Americans of all ages heavily engage in social media use when watching television shows. When cast members and producers from these shows join in with live chats, the “communal experience” (a name created by NPR host Michel Martin) is even greater. 
  • Music plays a large role in the African American social media experience. Though Facebook has not become a popular source for streaming music, we use the site to “like” musicians’ pages, with 49% of African Americans stating that they have “liked” a post from a musician, and 35% stating that they have commented on posts from musical artists or bands.

We’re online and waiting for advertisers to engage us, and even though we may not respond in any way other than liking or retweeting a post, you can be sure we’ve been reached.

Authored by: Ronesha Dennis

Ronesha D. Dennis is the Partnerships Manager at The National Campaign.  She is responsible for fostering relationships with sororities, fraternities, faith groups, and other organizations to encourage their members to become educated about the importance of unplanned pregnancy prevention.  Ronesha joined the Campaign in May 2011 as the Office and Fulfillment Coordinator.

A native of New Orleans, LA, Ronesha currently resides in Temple Hills, MD, where she spends her weekends planning sorority service events, studying marketing trends, and practicing French.  Ronesha earned a Bachelor of Arts in Communications with a concentration in Print and Online Journalism and a minor in Computer Science from Howard University in 2011.  Her greatest accomplishment was redesigning the website for the university’s then-daily newspaper, The Hilltop, and the Howard University News Service.  

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Kate holds a Bachelors degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from The George Washington University. 

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