We published a new report from a research focusing on how adolescents with epilepsy use the internet. We collaborated on this research with the Clinic of Children's Neurology, which is part of the Faculty of Medicine od Masaryk University and the University Hospital Brno.
The main goal of this project was to explore how adolescents with epilepsy use the internet, what do they experience online and what content do they encounter. We were interested in how they use the internet to inform themselves about their disorder and whether adolescents with epilepsy use the internet differently than the general adolescent population.
Our findings show, that when looking for health related information, adolescents with epilepsy most commonly turn to experts (doctors, official websites of healthcare facilities) and parents. They also regard those as the most trusworthy sources of information.
Regarding internet use, youth with epilepsy tend to behave in a very similar way online as their peers and they do not experience a higher level of risky situations. We found very few differences, typically with small effect sizes. Interestingly, despite experiencing the same level of online risks, youth with epilepsy feel somewhat less safe on the internet and are less confident of coping with bothersome online experiences, during which they tend more to seek and receive help from their parents.
In general, the comparison with representative sample allows to depict the discrepancy between the actual and perceived negative online experiences of youth with epilepsy. The findings show that epilepsy, while limiting some areas of youth’s lives, does not affect their online presence substantially, in positive (engagement in online activities), nor negative (online risks) manner. Yet, it also shows that despite the similar usage and experiences patterns, adolescents with epilepsy seem to be perceived as more vulnerable by their parents and by themselves, as reflected in higher help-seeking and receiving, and lower confidence in their coping skills.
The full report was coauthored by Lenka Dědková, Hana Macháčková, Renata Hlavová and Marie Badrošová from IRTIS and Ondřej Horák and Pavlína Danhofer from the Clinic of Children's Neurology. Apart from report authors, David Šmahel, Nela Nováková a Dominika Mišovicová also collaborated on the research project.