It has become customary for many of us to google our symptoms whenever we feel there is something wrong with our health. Moreover, some of us will seek medical advice or remedies on various forums or published articles or we will simply check for second opinions if we have already seen a doctor.
It seems that young people trust search engines such as Google more than older ones, according to a new study which revealed that about 84 percent of teenagers living in the U.S.A. are likely to look for information related to their health online. This includes not only medical advice, but also tips regarding fitness, diet and mental behavior.
The study consisted of analyzing a survey which was carried out by researchers at Northwestern University. It is not only the first study of this kind that includes tools such as mobile apps, social media sites and other gadgets. A study that looks into how media is used by young people hasn’t been carried out in over 10 years.
1,156 American teenagers aged 13 to 18, most of whom were going to public schools, were surveyed. Both English-speaking adolescents and Spanish-speaking young people were included.
Many aspects related to these teenagers’ behavior online were taken into account in this survey. These included the frequency of Internet use, the topics they most often googled, the type of information they got, the reliability of the sources and the results reflected in their health behaviors.
It seems that the topics that most interested teenagers were related to fitness (42 percent) and diet (36 percent). Other topics they searched were associated with stress (19 percent), sexually transmitted diseases (18 percent) and mental health (16 percent).
It was also revealed that 25 percent of them search for information related to their parents’ health online.
The survey attempted to rank the main sources of information are for teens looking to improve their health and found that the Internet comes fourth in their preferences, after parents, health professionals in their schools and doctors. It was established that they definitely prefer the Internet over TV, books and magazines
The study authors are not necessarily worried about the fact that adolescents seek information online but they are more concerned that such young people might not be able to distinguish between correct and erroneous facts or advice.
The results of the research were presented during a conference in Washington D.C., on Tuesday, June 2nd .
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