Facebook: The Use of Social Media to Engage Parents in a Preschool Obesity Prevention Curriculum.

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE

This study investigated the use of Facebook to deliver health-related education materials to augment a preschool classroom-based obesity prevention curriculum.

DESIGN

Cross-sectional, mixed methods (descriptive and interviews).

SETTING

Head Start classrooms administered by 2 large agencies (1 rural and 1 urban).

PARTICIPANTS

Convenience sample of parents in 13 classrooms (cohort 1, 3 classrooms; cohort 2, 10 classrooms).

INTERVENTION

Delivery of nutrition education curriculum content using social media (Facebook).

VARIABLES MEASURED

Qualitative interviews assessed barriers and facilitators to Facebook use. Parent views, likes, and comments were measured to reflect parent engagement with Facebook.

ANALYSIS

Content analyses (qualitative data) and descriptive statistics (quantitative data).

RESULTS

Family access (views) and interaction (comments and likes) with the posts varied based on type and content of posts. Rural families were more active. Barriers to parental Facebook engagement included a desire to see more posts from classroom teachers, lack of time, and misunderstanding about privacy protections. Facilitators of parental Facebook engagement included perceived utility of the content and social support.

CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS

Facebook was found to be a feasible platform to provide nutrition education and facilitated varying levels of parental engagement. Lessons learned and implications for prevention and intervention programming are offered.

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