What is GirlSmarts?
GirlSmarts is a web-based series of real life stories that teens and their parents could easily access will enhance school based education of critical health-related issues that adolescent females may face in the teen years. Advanced knowledge of such situations will make an adolescent more prepared, and thus less likely, to become involved in high risk behaviors. Concomitant parental education will facilitate family discussions and solidify an adolescent’s view of a topic as well as improve parental awareness of the stresses placed on teenagers today.
Create an interactive web based series of hypothetical scenarios that an adolescent female may face during her teen years.
To make female teens and their guardians aware of pertinent health related issues in an effort to decrease risk-taking behaviors through awareness and knowledge. Additional goals include promoting abstinence and safe sex habits, preventing pregnancy/sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) & the overall reduction of hazardous practices to promote the safety of the adolescent.
Background & Significance
Teenage females today are a generation of individuals who want to experience situations immediately. Such “instant gratification” allows choices to be made prior to understanding the consequences of the decision. This is exemplified by the 12 million new STDs infections per year in teens that are sexually active and choose not to use condoms. Knowledge of the consequences prior to experiencing risky situations may alter a teen’s reaction to the incident, and allow them to respond more favorably towards behaviors affecting their health.
The development of a young adult’s risk behaviors is influenced by a complex set of biological, social, personality and behavioral factors. Studies reveal that the quality of family relationships is associated with adolescent sexuality; families with higher levels of communication and monitoring have children who are more likely to delay their sexual debut. Additionally, high risk behaviors can be decreased by promoting motivation as well as refusal skills. Johnston-Briggs et al reveal that level of motivation, belief in the importance of an intervention and self-efficacy to use the intervention were the strongest predictors of consistent condoms use in adolescent mothers.4 Similarly, a household smoking ban amongst families has been associated with a more negative attitude about the social acceptability of smoking amongst adolescents. In the same way, education by simulation can help teens analyze a high risk behavior prior to experiencing the behavior first hand. Education will help build refusal skills and knowledge of the hardships associated with these behaviors may motivate a teen to use an intervention to avoid a potentially detrimental activity.
To date, prevention approaches have concentrated on providing information. Currently, there is no interactive web series of cases that simulate the high-risk scenarios an adolescent female may face. Such a series would enhance information obtained from school and through social interactions.