Understanding Adolescent Internet-Use Patterns in the Search for Mental Health Resources

Lauren Elizabeth Golia, Fordham University


This study was designed to examine the extent to which adolescents use the Internet to search for health and mental health resources, and to evaluate the relationship between this behavior and adolescent characteristics such as relative level of clinical impairment, use of informal versus formal sources of support, self-perceptions of electronic health literacy skills, age, and gender. Adolescents aged 13 to 18 years old (N = 297) completed a survey assessing these aspects after an annual routine physical exam with their medical provider. The majority of adolescents indicated having used the Internet to seek out health information; over 25% of them had used the Internet to seek out information pertaining to mental health. Adolescents indicated being most interested in mental health information pertaining to depression and anxiety, followed by posttraumatic stress disorder and stress. Results from a logistic regression analysis indicated that older, female adolescents who demonstrated a greater degree of clinical impairment were significantly more likely to utilize formal sources of support. Poisson regression analyses further indicated that older female adolescents were significantly more likely to utilize a greater number of formal supports. Multiple regression analyses indicated that older, less clinically impaired adolescents demonstrated significantly more confidence in their electronic health literacy skills than their peers. Collectively, results suggest that the Internet is an important tool for adolescents to seek answers to sensitive questions about their bodies and mental health.

Subject Area

Mental health|Counseling Psychology

Recommended Citation

Golia, Lauren Elizabeth, "Understanding Adolescent Internet-Use Patterns in the Search for Mental Health Resources" (2017). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI10278560.