Some good news about teens and the Internet: Many switch to healthier habits after consulting the Web.
In the first national study in more than a decade to look at how adolescents use digital tools for health information, nearly one-third of teenagers said they used online data to improve behavior — such as cutting back on drinking soda, using exercise to combat depression and trying healthier recipes — according to a study to be released Tuesday by researchers at Northwestern University.
Although it's common to hear about "all the negative things kids are doing online," the study highlights the importance of making sure there is accurate, appropriate and easily accessible information available to teens, "because it's used and acted upon," said Ellen Wartella, director of Northwestern's Center on Media and Human Development and lead author of the report.
Researchers also found that nearly one-quarter of teens were going online to look for information about health conditions affecting family or friends. While most teens rely on digital resources to learn more about puberty, drugs, sex and depression, among other issues, a surprising 88 percent said they did not feel comfortable sharing their health concerns with friends on Facebook or on other social networking sites.