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Exploring Participant Engagement in a Supplementary Facebook Component to the FoodMania Curriculum

      Objective

      To investigate the role of a supplementary social media component of a larger curriculum designed to foster family communication about food marketing and healthier food behaviors.

      Description

      A private, optional Facebook group was created for parent participants for each of the five county sites in Washington State testing the family-based curriculum FoodMania: Kids & Food in a Marketing-Driven World. A posting schedule that rotated by message strategy and topic was created and implemented by WSU researchers. Beyond these initial “administrator posts,” county educators and curriculum participants were encouraged to respond and share original content as well.

      Evaluation

      Data analysis is ongoing. Certain cognitive processing outcomes, nutrition outcomes, and family communication outcomes have thus far predicted overall participation in the Facebook group. These outcomes included critical thinking toward the source, wishful identification, advertising efficacy, social support for fruits and vegetables, utilizing nutrition facts labels, and positive and negative parental mediation. A participant’s inclination to contribute an original response on Facebook was associated with critical thinking toward sources of information and with using information on nutrition facts labels to select healthier foods. Participants were more engaged with posts related to nutrition-based facts and to food marketing when county educators and other participants shared targeted tips, activities, and recipes.

      Conclusions and Implications

      A targeted social media component paired with exiting curricula may reinforce concepts presented in the curriculum sessions. Those who are more engaged in the lessons may also be more engaged in the social media component. Educators who cultivate participation in the social media component by using it themselves will most effectively engage participants and foster involvement with each other.

      Funding

      2012-68001-19618

      Supplementary data