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DigitalHealthEdu: Digital technologies for healthy lifestyles?

Project title


Description of initiative

This project focuses on digital health promotion, understood as those messages and initiatives that encourage the adoption of healthy lifestyles (physical activity, diet, psychological well-being, etc.) through digital technologies (websites, apps, social networks, or self-monitoring devices). The main hypothesis is that these digital technologies play a fundamental pedagogical role in how young people learn about and understand their bodies, health, fitness and well-being. Specifically, they promote normative gendered body ideals and norms, neoliberal notions of the self and discourses of health consumption, which generate risks and inequalities. In addition, it is worrying that these public or informal pedagogies often come into tension with the health-related learnings provided by formal education.
The final goal of this project responds to the urgent need to understand and address how school education could help young people to successfully navigate through this complex landscape of digital health promotion. To this end, the purpose of this project will be to co-develop with young people innovative and critical pedagogical ideas about digital health technologies in schools, informed by a deep understanding of the meanings, contexts and social factors that shape Spanish young peoples relation with digital health promotion.
The project has three objectives:
1) To co-research with young people of diverse social profiles about the role of digital technologies for healthy lifestyles on their lives, exploring the impact over their health, health behaviours and identities as well as the affects, relations and learnings that emerge;
2) To co-create with young people critical digital health pedagogies aimed at challenging normative meanings and affects on health, health behaviours and identities;
3) To design an educational proposal aimed at the critical digital health education of young people.
The research design will be participatory, multi-method, iterative and multi-site, with the development of fieldwork in two Autonomous Communities, selected by their different socio-demographic characteristics: Madrid (urban) and Galicia (rural). It will consist of the following Research Stages:
1) Survey of a representative sample of young people to map their uses of these technologies;
2) Digital diaries, as participatory visual methods to delve into the meanings and impact of these technologies;
3) Co-creation workshops through participatory creative methodologies for the development of critical digital health pedagogies.
Additionally, a transversal stage of Participatory Action Research will be developed with young people who will collaborate closely with the research team. This project involves the design of an audiovisual educational proposal aimed at critical education on digital health promotion. The project plans to have an impact on young people and educational agents, as well as policy makers in the areas of Education and Health Promotion.

Further information on the initiative

Themes: Culture and...

Mental health
Physical health
Quality of social relations


digital health, participatory methods, art-based methods, digital diaries

Target group


Cultural field

Multimedia, new media, digital | Other | Visual arts




2022 - 2026

Sources of funding

Science and Education Ministry of Spain

Results, benefits, impact and lessons learnt

The main expected scientific impact of this project is the understanding of how to develop in schools a critical education about digital technologies for healthy lifestyles that consider both the affective, embodied and relational ways with which people learn as well as the social, contextual and cultural factors which condition health-related learnings and outcomes. Drawing from the initial project developed with an international team, in this project we expect to provide a substantial knowledge about how to develop these critical pedagogies: with young people as collaborators, adopting a whole school approach, and with new materialism as framework, something that has not been done before. Through this path, we expect to contribute to the development of new theoretical concepts and innovative participatory creative methods in digital health research. This research topic, which is burgeoning internationally, urgently needs the development of critical educative approaches. At national level, we expect to provide the first understanding of the uses of digital technologies about healthy lifestyles among Spanish youth.
These contributions will advance in the interdisciplinary knowledge as the object of inquiry is itself interdisciplinary, in the intersections of digital literacy studies, health education and critical pedagogies. The results will contribute significantly to the thematic priority 1.Health in its intersection with education, improving the way in which young people can learn about health and healthy lifestyles using digital technologies. This will contribute to the interest in producing future generations of healthy citizens through digital technologies, advancing towards a healthier society where equality, diversity, social justice, and supportive educative environment are promoted.


Universidad Complutense de Madrid
Public / State | Other