The Digital Health Generation

Research Overview


This project will begin to address major and pressing gaps in digital health knowledge, by providing unique insights into young people’s (aged 13-18) experiences of digital health technologies focused on ‘healthy lifestyles’. It will develop an innovative theoretically-informed and methodologically novel research approach, bringing together perspectives from the fields of critical digital health, pedagogy and ethics and utilising innovative qualitative methods of data collection to examine the impact of digital health technologies on young people’s health, bodies and identities and identify related inequalities and opportunities. During the course of the project we will be mapping the digital health ecology system including the technologies being used by young people (aged 13-18) and their engagement with health data; identify a network of related health professionals/clinicians, policy makers, academics and digital designers; host a national workshop and symposium to bring together key expertise and disseminate findings.

Aims & Questions

1) To identify how commercial digital health technologies focused on ‘healthy lifestyles’ are used by young people (aged 13-18 years) and explore their impact on health practices.

2) To develop contextualized understandings of how young people discover, select, adopt, share, employ, resist or reject the information and assumptions about health and bodies that are offered by digital technologies.

3) To examine how actors and agencies (official and commercial) guide and push young people towards the use of digital health technologies

4) To develop new conceptual, theoretical and empirical insights on the processes of learning about and managing human bodies and health through digital technologies.

5) To explore how social contexts shape digital health technology engagement and identify related inequalities and disparities of its use (e.g. terms of differential access and social inequalities such as age, gender, social class, sexuality, disability and ethnicity).

Areas of Interest

The research will examine in detail, young people’s engagement with technology in terms of:

  • trust/reliability are established, what they like and dislike about these technologies

  • what they are learning about health and the body through these technologies

  • how they engage in health-related social groups and communities via these technologies

  • how they use the data generated by digital health engagement (e.g. in relation to diet or physical activity practices)

  • what they know about how digital software and device developers and third parties may gain

  • access to and use their data

  • the deficiencies or gaps they perceived in the digital health technologies that they have

  • access to and what they would ideally like to see in digital health tech offered to them

  • Whether they feel pressured or pushed into using digital health tech and by whom

  • how they incorporate and negotiate information and support derived from digital media

  • sources with other sources (parents and other family members, teachers/education system,

  • healthcare professionals, friends and so on)