Our research indicates that urban youth are accessing information in new ways, particularly on the internet and often through personal devices. As many as 77% of male respondents and 54% of female respondents use the internet, of which 59 percent access it on a personal device, such as a mobile phone or tablet.

“My girlfriend was worried that she was pregnant and didn’t know how to buy or use a pregnancy kit. We used Google on my phone to figure it out,” said a 19- year-old in Jaipur.

This tendency to look up information online can be leveraged by credible and interactive platforms to address the information gaps in reproductive health. And the following characteristics of internet-centric channels work particularly well when it comes to building awareness:

1.  Anonymity

Platforms such as Menstrupedia don’t require their users to disclose identifies, providing a safe space to ask otherwise uncomfortable questions.

By providing a forum for people to post anonymous questions–where the answers benefit many others with the same query on their minds–it reduces the stigma that a young person seeking information might otherwise face.

2. Engaging and shareable content:

Providing information through youth-oriented multimedia content, primarily through online channels, is an especially engaging way of connecting with this segment. They are more receptive to multimedia content such as videos and comics and are more likely to share such content with their peers.

Much of the content on Agents of Ishq, a multi-media project about “sex, love and desire”, consists of images, videos and podcasts in Hindi and English, sprinkled liberally with humour to make it appealing for this generation.

3. Wide and cost-effective dissemination:

Credible online content leverages the growing use of internet-enabled mobile devices, particularly among young men. These channels also enable wide dissemination to large populations of youth at no additional cost.

With 58,000 subscribers on YouTube and 70 percent of their views coming from mobile devices, mDhil’s educational videos about health in multiple languages, including reproductive and sexual health, have been successful in garnering eyeballs. Their video on sex and STIs in Hindi has been viewed more than 1.2 million times on YouTube.

The initial success of these models point to the fact that instead of the traditional community or PHC-driven models, the government, funders, non-profits and social enterprises funders must look to the internet and social media for improving knowledge and behaviour on these important topics.