Even in the Digital Age, Teens Rely On Mom and Dad for Health Advice

Mom and Dad are the leading sources for health advice, according to a new study on Teen Health Perceptions from the Scarborough Kids Internet Panel (S.K.I.P.).  According to the study, 63% of teens said that when they have questions about health and nutrition, they go to their parents/​guardians for information. One half (50%) turn to the Internet.Consumer Spending logo

"The S.K.I.P. study shows that despite the digital age we live in, teens still turn to their parents for advice.  Healthcare social marketing efforts can have greater impact if parents are targeted along with teens," said Steve Seraita, executive vice president, Scarborough Research. "However, the Internet is very influential too, and should be a key element in any comprehensive teen marketing program."

The S.K.I.P. study found differences among teens in different age groups. Those ages 13–15 are considerably more likely than their older counterparts to rely on their parents for health information. Sixty-​eight percent of 13–15 year-​olds cite their parents as the source they turn to with their health and nutrition questions, versus 45% of 16–17 year-​olds. When teens reach the age of 16, however, the Internet trumps parents as the source for health information. Fifty-​eight percent of teens ages 16 and up go online for health information, versus 45% of those ages 15 and under.

Almost all (92%) of teens say health and a healthy lifestyle is "extremely or somewhat important" in their lives. In fact, the study found that the majority of teens give themselves good health grades. Seventy-​six percent of teens give themselves B's or higher on their "healthy report card." Overall, boys give themselves better health grades than do girls, and 13–15 year-​olds give themselves a better grade than 16 year-​olds. There is a positive correlation between grade and importance — as the importance of healthy lifestyle increases so do the grades. Teens feel nutrition and exercise are the two pillars of a healthy lifestyle.

With regard to their role as future consumers, teens value an  informative product website when making decisions about purchasing health-​related products such as vitamins or nutritional supplements. Fifty-​six percent of teens indicated "informative websites" were very or somewhat important to their purchase decision. Coach  recommendation (54%) and medical website recommendation, such as WebMD or MayClinic​.com (46%) are other leading sources teens rely upon for information when making health product purchases.

"S.K.I.P. Teen Health Perceptions Study," conducted by Scarborough Research, August 24, 2009.  Website: www​.scarborough​.com.