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Health apps for children: Deploying Digital Health in a safe, high quality and high efficacy way in the Pediatric field
  • Tamsin Holland Brown ,
  • Karl Prince ,
  • Jon Warner
Tamsin Holland Brown
Cambridgeshire Community Services NHS Trust

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Karl Prince
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Jon Warner
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Research shows children and young people (CYP) engage with digital software applications (apps) from as young as one year old. CYP often see the value of wearables and enjoy the educational experience of being proactively involved in their health education and management.
Parents, carers and teachers are heavy influencers of digital health use, but adults themselves lack policies around digital health education, often focusing on risks, and are less familiar with child-led digital health education.
Health applications (apps) can create a space for children to learn about health conditions, healthy lifestyles and preventative health measures: Providing personalised knowledge as their bodies and needs develop.
CYP are growing up in a world where many health services are likely to have a so-called ‘digital front door’, with some health management strategies or results likely to be delivered on-line or virtually. Due to stretched resources, CYP may need to be able to self-manage mild health conditions and could be better prepared to transition to adult services where they are likely to need to manage their digital health records and safe sharing of their personal health information.
CYP have the ability to be the ‘Trojan horse’, introducing apps, wearables and digital health solutions to parents, carers or wider family members without digital literacy or experience.
Pediatric apps and related health tech or wearables need to keep a child safe, connected, educated, empowered and healthy. Children should ideally access health apps that are safe, appropriate for their age and support management of their health preventatively and proactively.
Some health apps for adults have been seen to simply extend their included age range to include children without the appropriate research or considering safety or health differences between children and adults. Children have specific health, cognitive, developmental and physiological needs which need to be reflected in the health apps and digital health solutions recommended by health care professionals.
This paper examines the considerations needed for designing, recommending, and using pediatric health apps.