Teens, health and technology: A national survey

Ellen Wartella, Vicky Rideout, Heather Montague*, Leanne Beaudoin-Ryan, Alexis Lauricella

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

181 Scopus citations


In the age of digital technology, as teens seem to be constantly connected online, via social media, and through mobile applications, it is no surprise that they increasingly turn to digital media to answer their health questions. This study is the first of its kind to survey a large, nationally-representative sample of teens to investigate how they use the newest digital technologies, including mobile apps, social networking sites, electronic gaming and wearable devices, to explore health topics. The survey covered the types of health topics teens most frequently search for, which technologies they are most likely to use and how they use them, and whether they report having changed their behaviors due to digital health information. In addition, this survey explores how the digital divide continues to impact adolescents. Results of this study indicate that teens are concerned about many health issues, ranging from fitness, sexual activity, drugs, hygiene as well as mental health and stress. As teens virtually always have a digital device at their fingertips, it is clear that public health interventions and informational campaigns must be tailored to reflect the ways that teens currently navigate digital health information and the health challenges that concern them most.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13-23
Number of pages11
JournalMedia and Communication
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2016


  • Adolescents
  • Digital technology
  • Health
  • Information-seeking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication


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