Methods: We used data from a cross-sectional study that used a common survey instrument, the Homeless Youth Risk and Resiliency Survey (HYRRS), to examine risk and resilience factors among YEH. Participants (N=1426) were recruited between 2016-2017 from seven U.S. cities through YEH-serving organizations. Youth were in their early twenties (Mage=20.88) and from diverse racial backgrounds (African American=37.2%; White=18.9%; Latino=17.3%; Mixed=16.2%; Other=10.2%).
The dependent variables for this study were ICT access and use that have three items with a dichotomous (yes/no) response format. Items asked participants’ about their access to a smartphone, a mobile phone (but not a smartphone), and social media profile ownership. Covariates included demographic characteristics and systems participants are involved in (e.g., foster care, juvenile justice involvement; JJI). Bivariate relationships between individual characteristics and each ICT item were examined using Chi-square tests and then with a logistic regression model. Data analyses were conducted using SPSS 18.0 and Stata 13.0.
Results: The majority of respondents had access to a smartphone (65.1%) and owned a social media profile (73.5%), whereas only 17.8% used mobile phones. Access to smartphones and mobile phones was significantly associated with SES, race/ethnicity, and the systems they are involved in. Interestingly, JJI was significantly associated with both smartphone and mobile phone use, with individuals involved in JJI having significantly higher odds of using mobile phones (OR=1.42; CI:1.05-1.93) but lower odds of smartphones (OR=.75; CI:.586-.967) compared to their counterparts. YEH who were female (OR=1.74; CI:1.29-2.34), White (OR=1.63; CI:1.01-2.66), living in Denver (OR=1.68; CI:1.05-2.71), and working (OR=1.64; CI:1.23-2.19) had significantly higher odds of reporting having social media profile.
Conclusion: The results indicate that ICT access and usage among YEH varies based on their personal backgrounds and prior system involvement. Importantly, these findings highlight the need for developing individualized services for YEH by incorporating different ICT tools in intervention programs. Examining the associations of barriers and facilitators of ICT access and use and the consequential health behavior of YEH is also necessary for future studies.