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Jul 30 2016
by Madeleine Williamson

Public Health Officials Are Using the Eggplant Emoji To Teach Teens About Sexual Health

By Madeleine Williamson - Jul 30 2016

“Need to talk to someone about ‘it’?,” ads in New Yorkers’ Facebook and Instagram feeds ask. What exactly ‘it’ is is clarified with suggestive emojis – birds, bees and, of course, the eggplant. The ads link to the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation’s website, USA Today reported Wednesday.

Website visitors can access information about sexual health and find out where they can get reproductive health care. Released earlier this summer, the ads are part of an effort to reach out to teens and young adults via social media, Dr. Warren Siegel told USA Today. Siegel is the chairman of Coney Island Hospital’s pediatrics department. 

“Emojis really speak to young people,” he said.

But the young people USA Today interviewed weren’t so sure.

 “This is not a serious endeavor, and it’s approached to a very serious topic,” Hunter College student John David Noquera said.

 His classmate Liz Turetsky agreed. If she were seeking help, the tongue-in-cheek ads “would make me feel even worse,” she said.

Would this frank, tech-savvy treatment of sensitive topics put you at ease? Time will tell if it does for young New Yorkers.

Lead image credit: Thomas at

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Madeleine Williamson - DePaul University

Madeleine Williamson is a freshman at DePaul University majoring in journalism and minoring in political science and Spanish. She loves tea, stationery and exploring her new hometown of Chicago.

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