Yute Chatz app a hit among teens, young adults
NAVIGATING Yute Expression’s Yute Chatz, a chatbot launched by the National Family Planning Board (NFPB) and collaborators UNICEF and U-Report Jamaica, is yet another technological innovation that puts sexual and reproductive health responses in the hands of the primary users, ages 13 to 24.
Nickeishia Barnes, director health promotion and prevention, explained that the content and navigation was meticulously researched and evaluated to ensure appropriateness and accuracy. Subject areas covered by the chatbot include puberty, contraceptives, pregnancy, HIV, sex, mental health, and more. Accessible on mobile devices, tablets, computers, the interface provides instant responses to questions typed or spoken by the user, as well as videos, according to the developers.
The NFPB hopes that with the direct availability of information the audience’s knowledge of pregnancy prevention and HIV/STI prevention will be amplified. Young people want information that can guide their decision making, according to findings in the Adolescent and Youth Rapid Assessment.
With the confidentiality and convenience of the chatbot, which has been operational for the past two months, the reliance on their friends and less than accurate online sources are lessened.
Yute Chatz makes those uncomfortable conversations that parents dread much less intimidating. NFPB Executive Director Dr Lovette Byfield was sympathetic to the caregivers as she opined, “Parents are also concerned because they don’t have the information, they don’t understand what they [the young people] are saying.”
She urged them to also utilise the chatbot to obtain the information needed to talk with their children about all the issues that are of concern to them.
The speakers encouraged adolescents, youth, and parents to log on to the UNICEF U-Report platform, and popular social media platforms to access Yute Chatz, or use the QR code then select the number for the question they want. For individuals preferring to use SMS, the number is (876) 838-4897.
Contributed by Dianne Thomas, director, communication and public relations at the National Family Planning Board