Young People’s Perspectives on and Experiences of Health-Related Social Media, Apps, and Wearable Health Devices

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Abstract

It has been reported from numerous international and socio-economic contexts that young people are becoming increasingly interested in and/or using social media, apps, and wearable devices for their health. Yet, there are few robust empirical accounts on the types of health-related information young people find, select, and use, the reasons for their choices, and how young people use these technologies in a way that influences their health-related knowledge and behaviors. This paper synthesizes findings from three separate projects that investigated over 1600 young people’s (age 13–19) perspectives on and experiences of health-related social media, apps, and wearable health devices. The findings show that young people are both critical and vulnerable users and generators of digital health technologies. Many young people experience a range of positive benefits for their physical activity, diet/nutritional, and body image related behaviors. Yet there are a number of risks, and young people report on the power of digital health technologies to shape, influence, and change their health-related behaviors. The paper concludes by providing new and evidence-based direction and guidance on how relevant adults (including teachers, parents/guardians, health professionals/practitioners, policy-makers, and researchers) can better understand and support young people’s engagement with digital health technologies.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Article number137
JournalSocial Sciences
Volume7
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 13 Aug 2018