Teens and young adults are thought to be big users of digital and mobile healthcare, having grown up with the web, Google and mobile phones from an early age.
As it turns out, a new study of 1,300 young people ages 14 to 22 finds that young consumers use mobile and digital tools for nearly all their health research needs.
For example, the survey from Hopelab, a social innovation lab focused on designing science-based technologies to improve the health and well-being of teens and young adults, finds that nearly nine out of 10 (87%) teens and young adults say they have gone online for health information to search for topics such as fitness (63%), nutrition (52%), stress (44%), anxiety (42%) and depression (39%).
Nearly two-thirds (64%) of young consumers also say they have used mobile apps related to health, including for fitness, sleep, meditation or medication reminders. And one in five (20%) young people report having connected with health providers online through tools like online messaging, apps, texting and video chat.
“This age group fans out across the digital health landscape, searching for information, downloading apps and learning from people who share the same health concerns,” says Hopelab researcher Victoria Rideout. “This study finds that social media has indeed created a multitude of opportunities for young people to connect, share and create the health resources they need.”
Young adults are more frequent users of digital and mobile healthcare to research topics than teenagers, the survey finds. For example, 94% of young adults say they have gone online for health information, compared with 79% of teens, and 76% of young adults say they have tried a health-related mobile app, compared with 49% of teens. On average, young adults say they have tried two health apps, whereas teens have typically tried just one, the survey says.
Other key findings include:
• The majority of respondents (61%) say they have read, listened to or watched other people share about their health experiences online, whether in podcasts, TED talks or YouTube videos.
• Nine out of 10 (90%) teens say they have gone online for information on mental health issues.
• Teenage girls and young women are more likely than males their age to report going online for information about anxiety (55% vs. 29% of males) or depression (49% vs. 27% of males).
• Young people who identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual are by far the most likely to report looking online for information about depression, anxiety or stress.
“The digital health revolution has arrived for this generation of young people,” says Hopelab researcher Susannah Fox. “Technology and the internet have transformed how teens and young adults search for information, share stories and experiences, and connect to one another about health.”
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