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Insights from Generation Z to get us thinking



As the Uneo team – which itself is almost entirely made up of Generation Z’ers - started its journey to understand the use of technology and healthcare, we decided it was best to learn more from local high schoolers.

Let’s not forget that 58 million teens and young adults struggle with their health – both mental, psychosocial, and physical issues – all very much interrelated.

Getting an appreciation for how they look at healthcare and use technology in their day-to-day lives was a suitable place to start.

A little about our 'non-scientific' survey

Our wellness survey, completed by 261 teenagers from two high schools in central Maryland, consisted of ten simple questions:

  • Three demographic questions (age, identified gender, and race) – all of these were optional fields. Interestingly, these questions were completed 99 percent of the time. Our teenage respondents – for the majority that responded in the binary - were split equality between male and female. Also, 44 percent of the respondents indicated they were of a non-white race.
  • Three day-to-day smartphone-use question: do you have a smartphone, what app is used most, what features do you like about your apps.
  • Four questions specific to healthcare including the use and frequency of their smartphone to track their health, what health issues were important to them, and how is health information accessed.

Here's what we learned

Day-to-day use of a smartphone (over 97 percent had a smartphone)
  • By far, TikTok and Snapchat were the most common apps used (both at 52 percent of the respondents) – YouTube and Instagram were both at 39
  • When it comes to what features of those apps they liked most, 56 percent indicated the ability to share information with friends and about half indicated that the look and feel as well as personalization were important.

Healthcare issues important to them
  • Sadness, depression, and anxiety were rated as the three highest health issues of concern, with females having a 17 percent higher response rate for anxiety than their male counterparts
  • Self-confidence/self-esteem and body image were also ranked high with 53 percent of females indicating this was important (18 and 27 percent higher than males, respectively)
  • Addictions was another important topic (12 percent higher for males) with sleep, weight, and COVID rounding out the lower priorities.

How they use their smartphone for health
  • Whereas over 67 percent of the teens use an app in some way for their health, that use is most often tracking physical activity (steps, etc.), sleep, and for “dietary”, food tracking purposes.
  • Only 9 percent of the survey respondents use a smartphone app to manage stress.

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So what can we glean from this?

There are numerous ways to interpret these responses and certainly opportunities to dig further. As an important segment of Generation Z, teenagers’ use of their smartphones must be understood if we are to successfully engage them on their health.

Here are some perspective our team took away from this:

1. While sleep and weight were some of the most common items tracked by their smartphones, our respondents put both in the lowest third of “important health issues.”

2. Self-identified males and females differ quite a bit on what health issues matter most – particularly in the areas of self-esteem/ body image for females, addictions for males.

3. Despite their persistent use of smartphones – using those devices for self-care on areas of stress, self-esteem, and other psychosocial issues is lacking.

Innovate for change

At Uneo, we know that solving this crisis will not be easy but we are convinced that with innovation, collaboration, and creativity – as well as listening to this generation more carefully – we can make a difference. If you want to join us on this mission, please let the Uneo team know.

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