According to a new study conducted by researchers from Northwest University 84% of US teenagers use the internet if they want to obtain information about health, physical and mental behavior and fitness. In addition one out of five teenagers has even downloaded health apps for their mobile phones.
The lead author of the study, communications professor Ellen Wartella, said that this is a nationwide survey and it is the first study of this kind in ten years of tackling the way in which young generations use media tools. In addition the research took in account health information systems which are new such as mobile apps and gadgets. The “Teens, Health & Technology” survey involved 1,156 US teenagers with ages between 13 and 18.
According to the study one-third of teenagers say they use online information in order to improve their health condition. They inform themselves about the benefits of cutting back on drinking soda, trying healthy recipes and exercising in order to fight depression.
One quarter of the teenagers used the internet to find more about health conditions of which family members or friends suffered. Other issues which they are concerned about include puberty, sex, drugs and depression. 88% of the participants confessed that they do not feel comfortable to share health concerns on social networking websites such as Facebook.
So it seems that although it is commonly believed that teenagers use the internet for negative things and that it has a bad influence of them, this study proves that teenagers also use the internet for useful purposes. Co-author of the stuyd, Vicky Rideout, remarked:
“I mainly find it kind of moving, because it really illustrates that a lot of teens are grappling with very real, very important health challenges and that the Internet is empowering them with the information they need to take better care of themselves.”
The study analyzed various factors linked to teenage internet use such as the amount of information which the teenagers use, the frequency of internet usage, the most popular topics and the impact these had on the teenagers’ health behavior. The researchers also found out that the teenagers do not use only the web to inform themselves, but also digital tools.
Dr. Danelle Fisher from Providence Saint John’s Health Center (Santa Monica) was not involved in the study, but she commented on the findings saying that the internet offers a huge amount of information, but not all of it is accurate so the sources use should always be critically analyzed by both parents and teenagers.
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