Digital Health Tools: Mobile Apps, Digital Games, and Wearable Devices
Digital tools for health information and monitoring are popular: As we know (see above, Chart 2), about nine in ten Qataris have used the internet for health information (94 percent). But using (or at least downloading) mobile health apps also comes close to this impressive figure and over half of Qatari teens play video, computer, or mobile games related to health. However, wearable health trackers seem to be less attractive to teens, with around a third of respondents saying they use them (Chart 10).
Mobile health apps. Interestingly, however, among the almost four-fifths of Qatari teens who have at least downloaded mobile apps about health, almost half “hardly ever” use them. Only about one fifth said they “often” use their mobile health app (Chart 11).
Fitness and exercise, diet and nutrition, sleep, and dental health are among the top health-related issues that Qatari teens mentioned as being important to them personally--and for their friends (see above, Tables 3 and 4). No surprise, then, that these are also the topics of the apps they download. Qatari teens were also somewhat likely to download apps related to mental health (34 percent) and smoking (28 percent) (Chart 12).
We asked our respondents specifically which apps they had downloaded or used from a list of the most widespread apps used in Qatar. There are no unanimously popular ones, however. Even the two top apps only reach 15 and 13 percent of app users, respectively: “Your Health First: Calorie Counter” for nutrition and “Nike + Run Club” for fitness (Chart 13).
Wearable health devices. Two-thirds of Qatari teens have never used a wearable health tracker such as a Fitbit, FuelBand or the health-tracking function on a smart watch. A possible explanation for this high number could be that 66 percent of Qatari teens have “ever” used or downloaded fitness apps on their smartphones (see above, Chart 10) and may be using those apps as a substitute for health devices. Interestingly, even the relatively few users of health trackers do not find them really helpful (Chart 14).
Games for health. A minority of our respondents (12 percent) said they have “never” played a health-related video, computer, or mobile game (see above, Chart 10). These three gaming devices do not vary much in popularity, although mobile games are somewhat more widespread than computer and video games (Chart 15).
Surprisingly, games about mental health issues seem to be the most popular--a third of our respondents claim to have played them. Games relating to health issues that were most important to Qatari teens personally -- fitness & exercise, smoking, dental health and diet & nutrition (see above, Table 3) follow with a distance. Games relating to those issues all hover between 16 and 21 percent of Qatari teens who have ever played games about health (Chart 16).
Similar to our findings about the helpfulness of health trackers (see above, Chart 14), gamers were also unlikely to find health-related games very helpful: More than half told us that the health-related games they played were “not too helpful” at most (Chart 17).