An online survey of young adolescent girls' use of the internet and smartphone apps for mental health support

Rebecca Grist, Bethany Cliffe, Megan Denne, Abigail Croker, Paul Stallard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Background
Adolescents are digital natives, with the majority now owning their own smartphones and having internet access. Although the internet and smartphone applications (apps) can provide mental health support, little is known about how young adolescents use digital technology for mental health purposes. There are many digital health resources available for young people, but the assumption that they will be open to use them has been largely untested.

Aims
We aimed to explore how adolescents with and without raised symptoms of anxiety, depression and problematic eating use the internet on smartphones/tablets and mental health apps.

Method
The Bristol Online Survey tool was used to deliver an online survey to 775 girls aged 11–16 years, attending a state-funded secondary school in the south-west of England. The survey was completed in class during the winter term of 2017.

Results
A total of 98.7 and 97.4% used the internet and apps, respectively, although only 6% had used any mental health apps. Of those with raised mental health symptoms, 15–17% used or were using a mental health app, with 48.5% reporting that they would not use a mental health app.

Conclusions
Young female adolescents are avid users of the internet and apps but are not using digital technology for mental health purposes. Addressing concerns about digital technology are necessary to maximise the effect it can have on child and adolescent mental health.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)302-306
JournalBritish Journal of Psychiatry Open
Volume4
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jul 2018

Fingerprint

Internet
Mental Health
Technology
Smartphone
Surveys and Questionnaires
Health Resources
Population Groups
England
Tablets
Anxiety
Eating
Depression

Bibliographical note

© The Royal College of Psychiatrists 2018. This is an Open Access
article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives licence (http://
creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/), which permits
non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any
medium, provided the original work is unaltered and is properly
cited. The written permission of Cambridge University Press
must be obtained for commercial re-use or in order to create a
derivative work.

Keywords

  • information technologies
  • stigma and discrimination
  • Primary care
  • Mental Health
  • Adolescence

Cite this

Grist, Rebecca ; Cliffe, Bethany ; Denne, Megan ; Croker, Abigail ; Stallard, Paul. / An online survey of young adolescent girls' use of the internet and smartphone apps for mental health support. In: British Journal of Psychiatry Open . 2018 ; Vol. 4, No. 4. pp. 302-306.
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abstract = "BackgroundAdolescents are digital natives, with the majority now owning their own smartphones and having internet access. Although the internet and smartphone applications (apps) can provide mental health support, little is known about how young adolescents use digital technology for mental health purposes. There are many digital health resources available for young people, but the assumption that they will be open to use them has been largely untested.AimsWe aimed to explore how adolescents with and without raised symptoms of anxiety, depression and problematic eating use the internet on smartphones/tablets and mental health apps.MethodThe Bristol Online Survey tool was used to deliver an online survey to 775 girls aged 11–16 years, attending a state-funded secondary school in the south-west of England. The survey was completed in class during the winter term of 2017.ResultsA total of 98.7 and 97.4{\%} used the internet and apps, respectively, although only 6{\%} had used any mental health apps. Of those with raised mental health symptoms, 15–17{\%} used or were using a mental health app, with 48.5{\%} reporting that they would not use a mental health app.ConclusionsYoung female adolescents are avid users of the internet and apps but are not using digital technology for mental health purposes. Addressing concerns about digital technology are necessary to maximise the effect it can have on child and adolescent mental health.",
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An online survey of young adolescent girls' use of the internet and smartphone apps for mental health support. / Grist, Rebecca; Cliffe, Bethany; Denne, Megan; Croker, Abigail; Stallard, Paul.

In: British Journal of Psychiatry Open , Vol. 4, No. 4, 25.07.2018, p. 302-306.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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N1 - © The Royal College of Psychiatrists 2018. This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives licence (http:// creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/), which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is unaltered and is properly cited. The written permission of Cambridge University Press must be obtained for commercial re-use or in order to create a derivative work.

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N2 - BackgroundAdolescents are digital natives, with the majority now owning their own smartphones and having internet access. Although the internet and smartphone applications (apps) can provide mental health support, little is known about how young adolescents use digital technology for mental health purposes. There are many digital health resources available for young people, but the assumption that they will be open to use them has been largely untested.AimsWe aimed to explore how adolescents with and without raised symptoms of anxiety, depression and problematic eating use the internet on smartphones/tablets and mental health apps.MethodThe Bristol Online Survey tool was used to deliver an online survey to 775 girls aged 11–16 years, attending a state-funded secondary school in the south-west of England. The survey was completed in class during the winter term of 2017.ResultsA total of 98.7 and 97.4% used the internet and apps, respectively, although only 6% had used any mental health apps. Of those with raised mental health symptoms, 15–17% used or were using a mental health app, with 48.5% reporting that they would not use a mental health app.ConclusionsYoung female adolescents are avid users of the internet and apps but are not using digital technology for mental health purposes. Addressing concerns about digital technology are necessary to maximise the effect it can have on child and adolescent mental health.

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KW - stigma and discrimination

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