Parents’ practices and perspectives of accessing health-related information for their young children

Danica Hendry, Leon Straker, Sarah Cohan, Caroline McCarthy, Brittany Bourne, Ndapile Kumwembe, George Thomas, Juliana Zabatiero

Background: Digital technology (DT) is ubiquitous in the lives of families with young children and a concern for many parents, who find guidelines unrealistic. Research around accessing health-related information frequently focuses on specific health conditions rather than children’s health more broadly, and there is a lack of research surrounding parents of young children’s access to health-related information, including DT use.

Aims: To explore the practices and perspectives of parents of young children accessing health-related information for their children, especially DT use.

Methods: Parents of children aged 0-36 months (n=20, 16 female) completed a sociodemographic survey and participated in an online semi-structured interview on the type of health-related information they seek, from whom and where they seek information, and why they choose these sources. Inductive thematic analysis was completed on the transcribed interview data.

Results: Parents most commonly accessed information about non-urgent health issues. Practices and perspectives were guided by information accessibility, relatability, and trustworthiness, and were impacted by geographical location, number of children and Covid19 restrictions. Online sources were frequently used for sourcing health-related information, specifically government/ organisational websites, and social media. DT use information was less commonly sought, with parents relying on personal values and experiences, and mainstream media messaging, to make decisions about their child’s DT use.

Conclusions: Findings indicate a need for a shift towards broader sources and strategies to allow effective research translation to help inform parents’ perspectives and practices surrounding DT use.