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The Digital health generation #digital healthgen


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A research project funded by the Wellcome Trust, led by the University of Bath, University of Salford, and University of Canberra.

Exploring how young people engage with digital health platforms.

Published in: Science
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The Digital health generation #digital healthgen

  1. 1. #DigitalHealthGen The impact of ‘healthy lifestyle’ technologies on young people's learning, identities, and health practices House of Commons, 16 May, 2018
  2. 2. OUR TEAM University of Bath University of Salford University of Canberra
  3. 3. Our Research: 3 Phases 1: Survey assessment of digital health engagement (1,000+ 11-18 year olds) Focus on ‘healthy lifestyles’ rather than medical conditions.
  4. 4. Our Research: 3 Phases 2: Interviews and focus groups (13-18)) Understand how young people discover, select, adopt, share, employ, resist or reject digital health information. Examine how actors and agencies (official and commercial) guide and push young people towards digital health
  5. 5. Our Research: 3 Phases 3: In depth ’mobile’ case studies with 7 families Explore how social contexts shape digital health technology engagement and identify related inequalities and disparities of its use
  6. 6. 75% of young people owned their first mobile/tablet between 8-11 years old 55% use their mobile phone to learn about health 52% use apps to track diet, fitness and/or health
  7. 7. Instagram and Snapchat are the most popular platforms top site to help them understand health better (44%)
  8. 8. Willing to share data with Parents (64%) Health professionals (35%) Friends (33%)
  9. 9. OPPORTUNITIES? to self measure, monitor and regulate their bodies, behaviours, and lives including sleep, calorie intake, exercise/physical activity, mood, heart rate and sleep patterns and quality. Engagement with inappropriate content (eg. unrealistic nature of images. Some are actively engaged with and influenced by images and hashtags e.g. #fitspiration Negative relationships with food/body/self Development of obsessive habits. RISKS?
  10. 10. CRITICAL CONCERNS Awareness of commercial influence online e.g. social media adverts. Understanding of security/privacy/third party is very limited
  11. 11. CRITICAL CONCERNS Too many apps and decision making Minimal ‘guidance’ about use: 61% reported they ‘do what they like’ in terms of online access to digital health information
  12. 12. CRITICAL CONCERNS Credibility / reliability 45% reported they worried about incorrect information online. Mechanisms to gauge this vary from number of likes, reviews, if it is ‘high’ on search returns NHS - endorsement gives credibility / NHS Logo as a way of verifying trust
  13. 13. CRITICAL CONCERNS Peer Influence significant in terms of recommendations of who or what to follow online (e.g. YouTube) and likes/follows
  14. 14. CRITICAL CONCERNS Short termism Young people change apps and wearables quickly
  15. 15. CRITICAL CONCERNS Artificial Intelligence dehumanizing healthcare Perceived as appealing (anonymity, text based) but a barrier too (need for face to face, concerns about reliability)
  16. 16. CRITICAL CONCERNS Differentiation across policy guidelines There is considerable varied engagement with technology and digital literacy amongst young people
  17. 17. CRITICAL CONCERNS Feeling too controlled Concerns about apps/devices being pushed onto them (encouraged to use digital technology for health and fitness)
  18. 18. CRITICAL CONCERNS Unpredictability of use – e.g. mental health apps and self-diagnosis social capital of ‘mental illhealth’
  19. 19. POLICY IMPLICATIONS Young people are not necessarily digital natives There are varied forms of literacy/understanding/ opportunities and a better understanding of inequalities is needed
  20. 20. POLICY IMPLICATIONS Future proofing policy the need for upstream engagement
  21. 21. POLICY IMPLICATIONS Planned obsolescence in tech industry Technology is designed to be short-term use
  22. 22. POLICY IMPLICATIONS Commercialisation and big data – Developing big data literacy
  23. 23. POLICY IMPLICATIONS Data Literacy Loss of comprehension around how data is shared
  24. 24. POLICY IMPLICATIONS Engagement through schools Defensive approach digital life of children
  25. 25. NEXT STEPS Research & Engagements Next phase of research App Store in Hospitals After school Digital Health Clubs