Most parents hate text messaging. Adults find it annoying because teenagers text constantly during dinner, in class, while they are doing homework, while the parent is trying to talk to them. Judith Cornelius, assistant professor of nursing at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, sees texting differently. She thinks that text messaging might, just might, be the way to get teenagers to really listen to vital information.
Cornelius is currently performing a pilot study to test the effectiveness of text messaging as a medium for delivering HIV prevention education to at-risk teens. The study is first of its kind to be performed and is being funded by the National Institutes of Health's National Institute of Nursing Research.
The study is using a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-approved HIV education curriculum called "Becoming a Responsible Teen" (BART), which was developed to be used in face-to-face settings such as classrooms. Cornelius and her team are adapting it to work in the radically different format and communications setting of the cell phone text message.
Though the task of putting serious classroom material into the casual and fragmentary medium of the text message seems like an extreme translation challenge, Cornelius is convinced it can be done effectively and that the effort will be worthwhile. According to Cornelius, the medium offers some important advantages over the traditional face-to-face presentation method.
"Right now, with the face-to-face method we have been using, kids come in for one and a half to two hour long sessions," Cornelius noted. "Using the format of the text message, we can take the most essential pieces and send the material to them individually and have them text back a response. That simply, we get an individual interactive response and then we can follow up and continue the interaction."
Text messaging offers the personal intimacy of cell phone contact and t
|Contact: James Hathaway|
University of North Carolina at Charlotte