The researchers, based at the universities of Bath, Salford and University of New South Wales (Australia) say their findings highlight risks and opportunities for young people and suggest that more needs to be done to expand digital literacy lessons at school to focus on health.
Their recently published report with the Wellcome Trust, Digital Health Generation, describes young people in the UK and around the world as 'growing up in a time when healthcare is increasingly turning towards digital tools'.
From survey data of over 1000 young people, it uncovers that young people are accessing digital health technologies from a very young age -- 75% of survey respondents said that they owned their first mobile or tablet between the ages of 8-11 years -- with 70% of respondents saying they use these devices for health purposes in relation to fitness or dieting.
According to the report, the growth of these technologies poses problems both in terms of data collection, security and ownership, but also in how young people navigate the multiple and sometimes competing health advice and guidance. As a priority schools should be supported in educating young people about digital health as part of the health curriculum, suggest the researchers.