Research Brief| Volume 52, ISSUE 5, P522-527, May 2020

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How Children Search for Health Information Online: An Observational Study



      To evaluate whether children could find the correct answers to obesity-related health questions on the Internet and observe the search strategies children use when searching for such information.


      Twenty-five parent-child dyads, from a southwestern US summer day camp, participated in this cross-sectional study. Parents’ health literacy skills were evaluated. Children searched the Internet for 6 questions related to nutrition and physical activity. Search activities were recorded via Camtasia. Quantitative (ie, time spent per question) and qualitative data (ie, themes related to difficulties searching) were extracted by rewatching the recordings.


      All parents had either proficient or basic levels of health literacy. The question that had the highest rating for being correctly answered pertained to physical activity recommendations, whereas none of the children were able to find recommended servings of food groups.

      Conclusions and Implications

      Children were not successful in finding correct answers to most of the questions and used ineffective search strategies. Interventions that teach children effective search strategies for health information are needed.

      Key Words

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