Promoting Health Behavior in Young People in India: Learning for use of Social Media

Document Type : Review Article


1 Indian Institute of Public Health, Gandhinagar NH-147, Palaj Village Opp. New Air Force Station HQ, Gandhinagar, Gujarat, India

2 IIHMR University, Prabhu Dayal Marg, Near Sanganer Airport, Jaipur- 302029. India



Introduction: In today’s world, social media plays a major role in young people’s lives. Social media has the potential to reach and deliver information far and wide, including information on health behavior and lifestyle which could benefit in long term. The objective of this paper was to examine the use, reach and effectiveness of social media in health promotion and behavior change of young people.
Method: In order to carry out this study, a review of secondary literature was done. PubMed, Cochrane Library and reference lists of relevant articles from 2012-2018 were searched to identify social media interventions. Studies included in the review had used social media interventions for health behavior change. 
Results: Nine studies were identified as relevant to the study objective. Studies mainly used Facebook (n=6) as a social media platform to carry out behavior change interventions. Findings suggest that social media interventions are not only feasible but acceptable in the young community. The principle of engagement and peer or social support emerged as an important construct associated with behavior change.
Conclusion: Social media platform provides advantages like easy accessibility and acceptability. However, its mere availability and increasing use do not ensure its effectiveness. The lessons which this review gives are that while social media is an accepted platform for youth, it will not be effective as a behavior change tool if it is used just for information-sharing. Thus, behavior change theories and social support ensuring engagement are a few recommended approaches for social media interventions to facilitate behavior change.