Health promoting interactive technology: Finnish, Norwegian, Russian and Swedish students' reflections

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Abstract

The aim of this study was to elucidate Finnish, Norwegian, Russian and Swedish students' reflections and ideas on how interactive technology can be used to promote health in school. The data were collected in the northern part of these four countries, and 630 students aged 13-15 filled out the World Health Organization's ‘Health Behavior in School-Aged Children' self-completion questionnaire with one additional open question, which is analyzed in this article (n = 419). The phenomenological analysis resulted in four themes: A sense of control, Balancing enjoyable options, Sharing with others and Learning made easier. The students point out that interactive technology promotes empowerment and independence, reduces stress and makes learning easier. They argue for a healthy balance of Internet use for it to be health promoting. According to the students, good relationships increase well-being; and interactive technology can offer a way to socialize, provide a tool for meeting and making new friends, help when not feeling well and give support when encouraging classmates. We argue, based on the findings of the present study and previous research, that students need a combination of freedom and meaningful relationships with adults who have an empowered child perspective, to fully take advantage of the empowering effects of interactive technology. We suggest, as implications for practice, that teachers, school leaders and health care professionals find ways to act as partners using an appreciative process, asking questions on what works well, to make interactive technology an enabling technology to increase health literacy, thus improving health and well-being in students.

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