Adolescent health is of immense importance to the general population. The level of health education amongst this age demography ranging from 10 – 18 is crucial to having safe and satisfactory sexual health. So that brings us to the question, what are the sources of health education for adolescents?
As technology and information dissemination improved over the years, the media has become an essential part of our lives. And with just a click of a button, some random person can put up information that can be consumed, without any form of fact check or verification of author credibility. If the news appeals to your better nature and is trendy, it becomes the news. But it is time we rethink how we use these powerful tools at our disposal. There is the need to let the experts do their job in their area of expertise.
Media is a major source of information to young people; studies show that the same is true for adolescents. But there are ramifications to our actions, and this is a call to self-consciousness to examine what we put out there, because like it or not, we are all stakeholders in adolescents’ health education. Regardless of what part we play, we may have positively or negatively, passively or actively played a role in adolescent health. Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp status, Instagram, etc., are some of the popular social media networks through which adolescents get their information, and this increases the danger of misinformation.
Some common myths around sexual and reproductive health include: sex cures dysmenorrhea, sexual activity helps enhance body shape and beauty, pregnancy cannot occur during menstruation, lack of sexual activity affect sperm production, lack of sexual activity results in waist and back pain, no one gets pregnant the first time they have sex, only vaginal sex is sex, etc. These are some of the lies told to coarse gullible adolescents into sexual activities that may result in unintended pregnancy and contracting STIs. In other instances, these myths can affect; personal hygiene, psychological health, and physical health with long-term morbidity effects such as infertility, adopted risky sexual behavior, and in worst cases, death.
Ignorance can indeed prove costly to the ignorant. And we do not have enough conversation around the damages that can occur through incomplete or misconstrued information. The effect is like a cascade that will continue to spiral till we eventually forget how it came about to begin. Whichever way you look at it, knowledge is still power; there will always be some impact. And to this end, it is imperative: to verify the information and the credentials of the author before we spread them, support the works of well-meaning community-based organizations to provide accurate information for adolescents, and scrutinize the contents we like, share, or upload on our social media handles. You are possibly educating someone passively or actively.
You just never know.