Nav: Home

Study reveals teenage patients attitude towards social media and privacy

September 20, 2012

OTTAWA, ON - September 20, 2012 - A study of how chronically ill teenagers manage their privacy found that teen patients spend a great deal of time online and guard their privacy very consciously. "Not all my friends need to know": a qualitative study of teenage patients, privacy and social media, was published this summer in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association and co-authored by Norwegian and Canadian researchers.

The study, which conducted interviews with patients aged 12 to 18 at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO), is the first to focus on how teenage patients view privacy issues in their online life while in hospital.

Many healthcare institutions and professions have guidelines about email communication with patients, but the authors note that teenage patients use other messaging systems, not email.

For that reason, and because "social network-based communications between (teenage) patients and between patients and health care providers will likely increase, there's a need for guidelines on such communication," according to Dr. Khaled El Emam, the Canada Research Chair in Electronic Health Information at the University of Ottawa and the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute. The study results also imply the need to strengthen "age appropriate" privacy education, useable and transparent privacy settings, and recognition of teenage patients' social and psychological privacy needs.

Hospital staff should be aware of the risk of "outing" patients by encouraging them to "like", link or comment on hospital and disease-specific sites.

"I just think that if people want to know [about my health], they should ask me. They should not just read it [on Facebook]."--female, 17 years old.

Social media plays a central role in the lives of all 20 patients in the study, with Facebook ranked the most popular. The group of patients (girls and boys) in the study had Facebook accounts, used its private messaging function instead of email, and had registered with their real name and date of birth. All but two of the patients had changed their Facebook privacy settings to friends-only, with the other two allowing friends of friends.

The study found that most did not reveal any personal health information on Facebook because the site is a place to be a "regular", rather than a sick teenager.

"Facebook users often let each other know where they are or what they are doing. However, most teenage patients do not write status updates on Facebook when they are at CHEO or return to CHEO," continued El Emam.

Half of the patients interviewed said that they are online "all the time" when not with visitors or hospital staff, while all the interviewees said they spend more time online--searching the internet and using Facebook, Youtube, Twitter and Skype-- in hospital than at home.

Social and psychological privacy were very important to the teenage patients, but informational privacy--the collection of personal information by governments and companies--was not among their concerns.

All patients felt they are in control of their privacy on Facebook, including the two who regularly share personal health information. Only one patient "questioned Facebook's access and use of personal information for targeted personalized advertisements."
-end-
For more information on the study, please see the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association website.

Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute

Related Social Media Articles:

Social grooming factors influencing social media civility on COVID-19
A new study analyzing tweets about COVID-19 found that users with larger social networks tend to use fewer uncivil remarks when they have more positive responses from others.
Using social media to understand the vaccine debate in China
Vaccine acceptance is a crucial public health issue, which has been exacerbated by the use of social media to spread content expressing vaccine hesitancy.
Vaccine misinformation and social media
People who rely on social media for information were more likely to be misinformed about vaccines than those who rely on traditional media, according to a study by the Annenberg Public Policy Center.
How social media makes breakups that much worse
Even those who use Facebook features like unfriending, unfollowing, blocking and Take a Break still experience troubling encounters with ex-partners online, a new study shows.
Teens must 'get smart' about social media
New research indicates that social media is leading young adolescent girls and boys down a worrying path towards developing body image issues and eating disorder behaviours - even though they are smartphone savvy.
Social media use and disordered eating in young adolescents
New research published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders suggests that social media, particularly platforms with a strong focus on image posting and viewing, is associated with disordered eating in young adolescents.
STD crowd-diagnosis requests on social media
Online postings seeking information on sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) on the social media website Reddit were analyzed to see how often requests were made for a crowd-diagnosis and whether the requested diagnosis was for a second opinion after seeing a health care professional.
Cynical social media voices can erode trust in news media
Amid rising concerns about low public trust in mainstream media institutions, a Rutgers study found that real-life and online social interactions can strongly influence a person's trust in newspaper, TV and online journalism -- but when it comes to online interactions, cynical views are the most influential.
Social media use by adolescents linked to internalizing behaviors
A new study from researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that adolescents who spend more than three hours a day on social media are more likely to report high levels of internalizing behaviors compared to adolescents who do not use social media at all.
Social media stress can lead to social media addiction
Social network users risk becoming more and more addicted to social media platforms even as they experience stress from their use.
More Social Media News and Social Media Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: Reinvention
Change is hard, but it's also an opportunity to discover and reimagine what you thought you knew. From our economy, to music, to even ourselves–this hour TED speakers explore the power of reinvention. Guests include OK Go lead singer Damian Kulash Jr., former college gymnastics coach Valorie Kondos Field, Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, and entrepreneur Nick Hanauer.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dispatch 6: Strange Times
Covid has disrupted the most basic routines of our days and nights. But in the middle of a conversation about how to fight the virus, we find a place impervious to the stalled plans and frenetic demands of the outside world. It's a very different kind of front line, where urgent work means moving slow, and time is marked out in tiny pre-planned steps. Then, on a walk through the woods, we consider how the tempo of our lives affects our minds and discover how the beats of biology shape our bodies. This episode was produced with help from Molly Webster and Tracie Hunte. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.