Most teens get health information online but prefer parents as primary source



The majority of teenagers in the United States rely on the Internet for health information, although parents remain their most common source of guidance, according to results published online from the Center on Media and Human Development at the Northwestern University School of Communication.

In a national survey of teens aged 13-18 years, 84% reported having obtained health information online and 21% said they have used health-related mobile apps, reported Ellen Wartella, Ph.D., of Northwestern University and her coauthors. Additionally, 32% of teens reported changing their behavior as a result of digital tools or health information found online.

Parents, however, remained the most common source of health information, with 55% of teens reporting that they receive “a lot” of information from parents, compared with health classes (32%), doctors and nurses (29%), and the Internet (25%).

Dr. Wartella and her colleagues called the findings “heartening,” because “even when it comes to sensitive health topics, teens are just as likely to want to speak with their parents as they are to want to look information up online.”

Additionally, the study “underscores the importance of making sure there is accurate, appropriate, and easily accessible health information available to teens online,” the authors concluded.

Read the full report here.

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