Internet and Social Media Access Among Youth Experiencing Homelessness: Mixed-Methods Study

Houdek VonHoltz, L.A.,
Frasso, R.,
Golinkoff, J.M.,
Lozano, A.J.,
Hanlon, A.,
Dowshen, N.
Journal Article
Year Published: 2018
Journal Name: 
Journal of Medical Internet Research
Volume: 20

Issue: 5

This journal article details a study that looked at social media and internet use among homeless youth for general and health-related purposes and whether their use changes with their housing status. The study also measured their interest in a website dedicated to youth experiencing homelessness. The researchers recruited a sample of youth ages 18 to 21 from a youth-specific homeless shelter. All participants completed a 47-item survey, with 10 individuals completing a semi-structured interview. The study found that participants were able to regularly access the internet (56 percent daily and 86 percent weekly), mostly by using smartphones (66 percent). While experiencing homelessness, participants indicated their behaviors were more goal-oriented, such as searching for health-related information, and less focused on leisure or entertainment activities. They demonstrated an interest in a website for youth dealing with homelessness. The researchers conclude that mobile-optimized websites may be an effective method for reaching this population given the prevalence of smartphones in accessing the internet. (author abstract modified)

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