10 tips for using technology to promote health


When discussing technology in pediatrics, it can often seem like it’s only a source of problems. A presentation at the virtual 2020 American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference & Exhibition offers 10 ways that technology can help promote health.

Our day-to-day life is filled with many forms of technology and the COVID-19 pandemic has shown just how much we depend on it all to keep us connected and entertained, as well as keep people safe by allowing them to work from home. Megan A. Moreno, MD, MSEd, MPH, professor of pediatrics and affiliate professor of educational psychology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, shared her presentation “10 ways to use digital tools to promote health” at the virtual 2020 American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference & Exhibition. She stated that the 10 tips offered ways for pediatricians to learn and understand; listen and elevate voices; care for patients; engage in advocacy; and care oneself.

The 10 ways to utilize technology for health included:

  • Challenge perceptions about technology – includes discovering games that offer benefits such as building logic skills or vocabulary and understanding that the quality of the digital activity is as important as the quantity of time spent with it.
  • Be familiar with how different digital platforms are used and the context that young patients have for various forms of social media – includes being familiar with how young people view social media, such as seeing Facebook as a newspaper, but Snapchat as a communication tool.
  • Understand the concept of affordances, which means functionality that allows a user to interact with a product – includes tagging people in photos, learning through images, or promoting a perceived link to a celebrity via “following.”
  • Check who you’re following – includes looking at who you’re promoting through a follow on any digital platform and seeking out organizations that support children and teenagers as well as their health.
  • Promote diverse voices - includes using social media presence to promote voices that support child health and support equity and inclusion
  • Advocate in the community – includes being aware of the digital divide in your community, knowing whether children and teenagers have access to technology, and promoting equity and systemic change.
  • Encourage co-viewing between patients and parents – includes having parents and children watch programs that discuss serious issues like mental health and digital technology, such as “Euphoria” and “The Social Dilemma” together to facilitate discussions on healthy choices.
  • Provide patients with resources for mental health – includes discussing the availability of such resources via apps and encouraging patients and parents to use PsyberGuide and Commonsense Media to find the right app for the patient.
  • Engage in self-care – includes using technology to read a favorite book, play a mentally stimulating game, or to learn how to do a new activity.
  • Be inspired by teenagers and children – includes seeking out sites that help connect teenagers and children doing good with others as well as discovering how children and teenagers are creating programs to make their world a better place.
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