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Wearable Activity Tracker Use Among Australian Adolescents: Usability and Acceptability Study
JMIR mHealth and uHealth, Volume: 6, Issue: 4, Start page: e86
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Background: Wearable activity trackers have the potential to be integrated into physical activity interventions, yet little is known about how adolescents use these devices or perceive their acceptability.Objective: The aim of this study was to examine the usability and acceptability of a wearable a...
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Background: Wearable activity trackers have the potential to be integrated into physical activity interventions, yet little is known about how adolescents use these devices or perceive their acceptability.Objective: The aim of this study was to examine the usability and acceptability of a wearable activity tracker among adolescents. A secondary aim was to determine adolescents’ awareness and use of the different functions and features in the wearable activity tracker and accompanying app.Methods: Sixty adolescents (aged 13-14 years) in year 8 from 3 secondary schools in Melbourne, Australia, were provided with a wrist-worn Fitbit Flex and accompanying app, and were asked to use it for 6 weeks. Demographic data (age, sex) were collected via a Web-based survey completed during week 1 of the study. At the conclusion of the 6-week period, all adolescents participated in focus groups that explored their perceptions of the usability and acceptability of the Fitbit Flex, accompanying app, and Web-based Fitbit profile. Qualitative data were analyzed using pen profiles, which were constructed from verbatim transcripts.Results: Adolescents typically found the Fitbit Flex easy to use for activity tracking, though greater difficulties were reported for monitoring sleep. The Fitbit Flex was perceived to be useful for tracking daily activities, and adolescents used a range of features and functions available through the device and the app. Barriers to use included the comfort and design of the Fitbit Flex, a lack of specific feedback about activity levels, and the inability to wear the wearable activity tracker for water-based sports.Conclusions: Adolescents reported that the Fitbit Flex was easy to use and that it was a useful tool for tracking daily activities. A number of functions and features were used, including the device’s visual display to track and self-monitor activity, goal-setting in the accompanying app, and undertaking challenges against friends. However, several barriers to use were identified, which may impact on sustained use over time. Overall, wearable activity trackers have the potential to be integrated into physical activity interventions targeted at adolescents, but both the functionality and wearability of the monitor should be considered.
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