Health-related internet use by young people/youth: A scoping review


  • Fatima Farah


Internet Use, Health Information Seeking, Health Decision Making, Young People, Youth


Background: The internet is a powerful tool for individuals searching for health-related content for their own requirements. The internet provides young people with the opportunity to research and explore a range of relevant health issues. Widespread access to the internet could reduce social inequality by reducing the barriers that can prevent people from sustaining their physical and mental health effectively. Hence, this scoping review explores how young people use the internet to access information on health issues and the pros and cons of health-related internet use.

Methods: A scoping review was selected to allow broader options for critical evaluation of the papers. A five-stage process explained by Arksey and O’Malley was followed for conducting the study. In this process, the Population-Concept-Context (PCC) framework, the inclusion and exclusion criteria were established.

Results: A total of 790 papers were potentially relevant to the aim and objectives set for the review. Once the duplicates and paid-access articles were removed, and other inclusion criteria such as year of publication from 2010 to 2020, relevance in titles and abstracts, population age from 14 to 24 years of age, etc. were applied, it led eventually to 10 papers to be selected for the review. Once the screening and critical assessment has been done, the papers were discussed using six key themes, mentioned later in the paper.

Conclusion: It has been observed that this topic of interest has not received much comprehensive work. However, the authors of these articles agreed that since the use of internet is widespread among young people, it is inevitable that they require internet to search for health and medical information more than the other age groups. It is obvious that more knowledge is required in order to appraise the quality of information given on the internet and identify authentic websites or applications for health information. There are significant gaps identified in the research as well which point towards future studies.