Teenagers Seek Health Information Online, but Don’t Always Trust It

Four out of five teenagers look to the Internet for information regarding health, but they don’t always put much stock in what they find, according to a national survey conducted by researchers at Northwestern University.

image 4The report suggests that some online health content is neither relevant nor easily located by teenagers.  Researchers and developers at NHPA have been busy adapting the LifeSkills Training program to a progressive, technologically savvy demographic – teens.  The evidence-based prevention program has proven to be successful time and time again, so the methods of presentation must be constantly adapted and revised to reach the intended audience.

The survey indicates that despite this lack of trust, one in three teenagers have changed their behavior because of what they’ve learned from online sites or apps.  Vicky Rideout, the designer of the survey, states that this phenomenon proves the independence of teens and their ability to take care of their own health.  Most teenagers said that they read the first few sites that exposed in an online search, rather than investigating further. The information often did not directly speak to their concerns or was densely written.

“Sometimes all the sites have everything different and it’s like, which applies to me?” said an 11th-grade girl in a focus group organized by NHPA researchers.  How many more teens might have changed their behavior when given the online tools necessary for prevention?

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