Background and Objectives: The COVID-19 pandemic raises a concern about the urgent issue of low levels of digital health literacy (DHL). Adequate DHL may mitigate the negative impacts of proliferating misinformation. This study was aimed at examining the COVID-19 related DHL levels and social media use as digital health information sources among high school students in East Java, Indonesia. The differences in DHL levels across sociodemographic factors, medical history, and social media preferences were also analyzed. Materials and Methods: This was a cross-sectional study, conducted in 2021, and enrolled high school students aged 15-18. The subjects were selected for convenience, with a minimum sample size of 384. An online questionnaire was shared through a survey platform. The sociodemographic variables and medical history were collected. The DHL measuring items were adapted from the validated DHL instrument developed in the COVID-19 context. Data were analyzed with SPSS 17.0. Results: We collected 432 responses. More than half of respondents (56.5%) have adequate DHL. Although 81.7 percent of respondents reported that searching for online information was easy, only 53.5 percent reported ease in appraising the reliability aspect. Fathers’ education varied by DHL. Students whose fathers hold post-graduate degrees showed a significantly higher level of DHL than those of lower educational backgrounds. Students experiencing COVID-19 infection of their own or close relatives showed higher total DHL and information search scores. Instagram and TikTok were the most frequently chosen social media as digital health information sources, but no significant difference in DHL across the preference for social media. Conclusion: Even though the information can be obtained easily, there are still difficulties in evaluating its reliability. Considering the proportion of respondents with inadequate DHL, stakeholders in the health and education sectors need to develop DHL-promoting strategies for adolescents. Improvement in evaluating reliability should be the target of focus.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-21
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Health Literacy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2024


  • COVID-19
  • adolescence
  • digital health literacy
  • health education
  • health information


Dive into the research topics of 'Digital Health Literacy Related to COVID-19 and Social Media Use among High School Students'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this