“I can’t even imagine”: Global poll reveals young people’s uncertainty about the future of digital health.

As an increasingly pervasive part of our lives, digital technologies present both opportunities and risks for children’s and young people’s health and wellbeing. Technologies offer new ways for young people to access health information and health services, but their use can also encourage unhealthy behaviours and increase inequities in health outcomes.
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As an increasingly pervasive part of our lives, digital technologies present both opportunities and risks for children’s and young people’s health and wellbeing. Technologies offer new ways for young people to access health information and health services, but their use can also encourage unhealthy behaviours and increase inequities in health outcomes. 

The Lancet and Financial Times Commission on Governing health futures 2030: Growing up in a digital world has been focused on the health of children and young people as it considers the governance transformations required to support universal health coverage in a digital age. The Commission is concerned about the ways that technologies can be harmful to health, but equally, that opportunities are being missed to harness technologies and data in support of young people’s health and wellbeing.

What do young people think about digital health?

To develop recommendations that reflect the views and lived experiences of children and young people, the Commission set out to better understand their expectations, hopes, and concerns in relation to digital health. Commissioners wanted to hear directly from young people about how they use technologies, and what they are optimistic or worried about in relation to digital health.  

As part of a broader programme to engage young people in its work, the Commission partnered with UNICEF to conduct a global U-Report survey. At a time when COVID-19 ruled out face-to-face consultations with young people, U-Report presented a chance for thousands of young people to share their views with the Commission about the digital health futures they want to see.