TikTok videos and online games could boost youth health

TikTok videos, anime role-playing activities and interactive scenarios on popular online game Fortnite are among the ideas put forward by high school students to improve the health of young people.

Groups of Sydney students came together this week to share their ideas with health experts, with the winners awarded $300 to build on their pitch.

The Health Hackathon event took place at Westmead Hospital and also gave participants an insight into a career in medicine.

Students from Model Farms High School in northwest Sydney said the two-day program gave them independence and freedom to develop ideas.

One student told AAP they were able to pursue their own proposals and be creative.

Working in groups, students explored issues including vaping, mental health and alcohol abuse, before delivering presentations to judges.

One group showcased a scenario they created in Fortnite, with players needing to resist in-game offers to vape in order to progress to the next level.

Students from Erskine Park High School in western Sydney presented an interactive anime game that aimed to highlight the hidden mental health struggles people could face.

The main character’s experience with mental health was explored through dark thoughts in response to various triggers that were displayed on screen.

The winning team came up with a TikTok video that showed a bird’s-eye view of a group of students dancing, before the crowd dispersed when one person smoked a vape.

The students behind the idea said they didn’t expect to win but thought their method of reaching students was the most practical.

“Young people nowadays are always on their phones,” one student said.

“As students, we know what other students like, we know what’s bad.”

More than half of the students groups involved in the program chose to focus on the topic of vapes in schools.

“With people our age it’s very popular since a lot of people have older siblings they can get vapes from,” one student said.

“Then they get their friends into it – it’s like a domino effect.”

The state government has set aside $6.8 million over three years to enforce vaping restrictions and help young people kick the habit.

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beyondblue 1300 22 4636


Bray Boland
(Australian Associated Press)


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