Indigenous youth, health, wellness, and social media: a scoping review

Knowledge about young people’s use of social media and their health is still fragmentary, and very rarely focuses on Indigenous youth. That is why this scoping review explores the extent and nature of knowledge about Indigenous users aged 15 to 29, and the health themes that emerge. 

  • Research into the use of social media by Indigenous youth and their health and wellness is an emerging field. Of the twenty-six publications selected, over three quarters were published in 2015 or later. 
  • Almost half the studies in the corpus—eleven in all—took place in Canada. They were mainly carried out using qualitative methodologies and target young adults, i.e., young people over the age of eighteen. In general, authors use exploratory designs and present descriptive results. 
  • The semi-structured interview is the most frequent method used to characterize use in over half the cases. All of the publications in the corpus cover at least one of the four characteristics of use: time, device, platform, or activity. The three most common social media activities are communicating (sending or receiving messages from friends and family), getting informed (seeking advice on anxiety, for example), and discovering and promoting one’s culture (consulting pages or groups specific to Indigenous peoples).
  • The examination of health themes in the corpus was guided by an Indigenous perspective on health and wellness. This is based on four facets—mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical— and is rooted in culture and territory, at both the individual and the community level. Six health themes emerge from the corpus, presented in order of frequency: identity and culture, social relations, health information, cyberbullying, racism, and other forms of violence, mental health, and lifestyle habits. 
  • The use of social media raises many questions about its possible effects on health and wellness, which is why further research is needed. Different angles of research could be explored: mental health, sleep time, problematic use, information practices, social support, and identity pride as a determinant of health
Jeunes Autochtones, santé, mieux-être et médias sociaux : une étude de portée
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