With concerns of digital technology harming young people’s health, a new study says that mobile applications focussed on exercise, diet and wellness promote their overall well-being and act as effective learning tools.
Health apps and devices have the potential to act as very engaging and attractive health promotion tools that could for example, help young people to learn about their bodies or improve their physical activity levels, said researchers from the University of Birmingham in the UK.
The study showed that young people are “critical participants” of digital health technologies and are able to judge which health related apps are relevant to their age and bodies, source appropriate digital content as well as dismiss those that might be harmful to them.
“There are currently over 160,000 health apps available on the major app stores focussed on wellness, diet and exercise and they are of particular interest to young people, however most of these apps are designed for adults,” said Victoria Goodyear, pedagogical researcher from the varsity.
For the study, the team included 245 young people aged from 13 to 18.
Findings, published in the journal Learning, Media and Technology, showed that one-third of the participants were active users of apps and devices related to exercise, diet and wellness.
In addition, schools, peers and parents were powerful influencers over the types of apps and devices young people used.
Importantly, many of the participants were able to disregard content that was either irrelevant to them, potentially harmful to their bodies, or simply ‘boring’.
Health education can be enhanced by learning from the ways in which young people access, select and use digital health technologies, the researchers noted.