Power Up: What’s Next in Technology for Youth and Wellness

It’s time for those of us working in health tech to power up—and use our health tech muscle to make a real and lasting difference in young people’s lives.

In video games, power ups restore game characters’ health, increase their strength, shield them from damage, give them special abilities, and help them beat the odds. In health tech, power ups can help us find winning solutions for improving young people’s health and wellness.

Power Ups for Youth Health Tech:

  • Data-Driven (+1 Power Up) – Data can inform new research and spark insights, and well-visualized data can transform perceptions and change behavior. Young people prefer when information is shown, rather than stated. Use data visualizations to help young people understand how they fit into the big picture.
  • Connected (+1) – Health tech cannot be tied down by time, place, or even platform. A safe, connected, networked, multi-platform mindset should be our default.
  • Agile (+5) – We need to learn quickly what works, keep what does, and discard what doesn’t. You only get one chance with young people, so you’d better make it good.
  • Innovative (+10) – At its best, health tech will be creative and even disruptive. Let’s focus on radically accelerating and scaling our best solutions.
  • Authentic (+25) – Trust is the most indispensable currency for dealing with youth. Period.
  • User-Centered (+100) – The digital divide has narrowed but still persists, especially in low-income communities and communities of color. Let’s equip youth in these communities and beyond with the tools, capacity, and mentoring they need to create smarter health tech for themselves and the world. As the teenage Intel ISEF winner, Jack Andraka, said, “It’s not just me. Kids can do anything with Google and Wikipedia at their fingertips.”

YTH is powering up by embracing participatory health tech, where youth are not limited to being seen as a market for new health tech tools, but are instead welcomed as creators of their own health future.

Join us by exploring these themes and others at YTH Live 2014, our annual conference on tech innovation for youth health and wellness. Your voice and imagination are critical to building a healthier future for the next generation.

Jamia Wilson is the new executive director of YTH and Deb Levine is YTH’s founder and president. YTH is the partner of choice for companies and organizations in search of new ways to use technology to advance the health and wellness of youth and young adults, and other vulnerable communities.

See Deb moderate a panel on using mHealth to engage and empower youth on December 10, 2013 at the mHealth Summit.

4 replies »

  1. Good post. I learn something new and challenging on blogs I stumbleupon every day.

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  2. WFW shares:

    As an advocate for wellmess outreach for rural, remote, vulnerable and other populations both in the USA and internationally; I suggest that combining the “old school outreach with the Power Up Options available to us, could open doors to intergenerational wellness projects that make a “REAL Difference”!

    Let’s VISION collaboratively OLD school + NEW school and create win-wins that result in achievement of mutual goals!

  3. 90% of our most vulnerable communities have access to mobile phones. We use those phones to connect communities with free and low-cost services. It is incredibly important because often times some people aren’t able to learn about wonderful services like the ones you offer. The discretion and the reach of the mobile phones allows us to build trust–and to disseminate information quickly and confidentially with wide reach.

  4. I’m curious about who is supposed to pay for the tech that people in vulnerable communities and just what tech are we talking about. Wearable fitness gizmos? PC or tablet-based apps? With my experience of leading wellness work in vulnerable communities for the past nearly 7 years, I’d say the least of our problems is tech, and as a family spending priority, it doesn’t even reach the bottom of the priority list. Our work — and our successes — are decidedly old school: human outreach, education, and engagement; facilities and program development; dogged determination; and, an embrace of entire families.