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Online Edge

Internet Health

Students need to become well-informed consumers of online health resources.

Two out of three teenagers who use the Internet search for health-related topics, and one in four say they get "a lot" of information online, according to Generation, a national survey conducted recently by the Kaiser Family Foundation. The study reports that half the teens seek information on specific diseases such as diabetes or cancer, and 44 percent look for content on sexual health issues including pregnancy, birth control, HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. In addition, one in four seeks information on weight, and 23 percent target information for each of these categories: mental health, violence, drugs and alcohol.

Almost 40 percent of teens say they changed their behavior because of content found on the Web, but only 29 percent say they checked the sources of the information they found.

"We need to pay attention to the quality and reliability of the health information reaching this important audience through the Internet," says Victoria Rideout, Kaiser's vice president and research program director,