Social Media to Enhance Sexual Health Education for Youth: FactNotFiction’s (Re)Design and Launch


  • Kathleen Ragsdale Mississippi State University
  • Sydney K. Harper Southern Alabama Area Health Education Center
  • Sheeji Kathuria Mississippi State University
  • Jamie H. Bardwell Women’s Foundation of Mississippi
  • Carol B. Penick Women’s Foundation of Mississippi
  • Michael Breazeale Mississippi State University


comprehensive sex education, eHealth, social media, teen pregnancy prevention, abstinence-only education


Inadequate access to comprehensive sex education has been linked to adolescent childbearing in the U.S., which has the highest teen birth rate among comparable developed nations as well as disproportionately high rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among youth and young adults. Resource-limited states such as Mississippi experience high rates of adolescent childbearing and STIs. For example, at 42.6 births per 1,000 teen girls, Mississippi has the third highest adolescent birth rate in the nation. Although 58% of Mississippi high school students are sexually active, the delivery of comprehensive sex education in public schools faces a number of issues in Mississippi (e.g., a ban on condom use demonstrations). In order to fill the critical gap in comprehensive sex education in Mississippi public schools, FactNotFiction was launched in 2012 to provide medically-accurate sexual and reproductive health information (i.e., comprehensive sex education) to Mississippi teens. We describe challenges associated with FactNotFiction’s initial development and launch and its successful redesign. Lessons learned from addressing FactNotFiction’s challenges have implications for other eHealth and social media initiatives for public health promotion—especially those targeting youth.