The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is spending more than a half a million dollars to create a social media campaign that persuades mothers to tell their daughters not to go to the tanning salon.
The project, "Likes, Pins, and Views: Engaging Moms on Teen Indoor Tanning Thru [sic] Social Media," will target moms on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram for two school years.
The study will also "analyze" the "political ideology" of mothers to see whether it has an impact on their engagement.
"Secondary aims are to analyze potential moderators (e.g., mother/daughter characteristics; mothers' political ideology) and mediation of campaign effectiveness by theoretical concepts and campaign engagement," the grant said.
Klein Buendel, Inc. was awarded $676,417 for the study. The company previously received $791,846 from the Department of Justice (DOJ) to develop a computer game to "limit the aggression" of middle school boys.
"Indoor tanning (IT) increases the risk of melanoma and many states have passed policies to restrict access to IT facilities by minors to reduce the rate of melanoma," a grant for the project said. "A social media campaign will be delivered to mothers with adolescent daughters designed to convince them not to allow their daughters to indoor tan in a state where IT restrictions have an exception for parental consent."
"Reducing mothers’ permissiveness for IT by adolescent daughters will improve the effectiveness of parental permission IT laws and help reduce melanoma in the United States," it said.
The campaign is targeted at states such as Tennessee, where the study will be based, that allow teenagers under 18 to tan indoors with parental permission.
The goal of the project is to get mothers to support a "complete ban" on indoor tanning for teens by signing a petition, sending a letter to their local government, or attending a hearing.
The anti-indoor tanning campaign is "significant because many health agencies and organizations rely on social media, yet there is a paucity of research on their potential influence in health communication campaigns," the grant said.
The study will likely receive additional federal funds until its budget expires in May 2016, though research will continue until 2020.