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J Med Syst. 2002 Dec;26(6):545-53.

Adolescent girls' use of the Internet for health information: issues beyond access.

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  • 1Division of Adolescent Medicine, University of Rochester, New York 14642, USA.


Whilst the "digital divide" in access to Internet technology has rightly concerned commentators on health inequalities, there are issues beyond physical access that must be tackled if adolescents and adults are to optimize the benefits of this developing medium. Emerging themes from an exploratory qualitative study of adolescents' use of the Internet for information about health and medicines describe four major challenges. Access issues persist if there are insufficient school computers that are unable to cope with increasing Web site sophistication. Software on school-based machines preventing exposure to material that is deemed to be unsuitable may also prohibit access to educational sites about sexual health and drug misuse. Strategies to manage the volume of available information are needed. The interplay of active and passive information seeking challenges whether the Internet can be truly useful during acute illness episodes. This exploration with future health service users highlights important questions for further study.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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