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JMIR Mhealth Uhealth


Background: Activity trackers are widely used by adults and several models are now marketed for children.

Objective: The aims of this study were to (1) perform a content analysis of behavioral change techniques (BCTs) used by three commercially available youth-oriented activity trackers and (2) obtain feedback describing children’s perception of these devices and the associated websites.

Methods: A content analysis recorded the presence of 36 possible BCTs for the MovBand (MB), Sqord (SQ), and Zamzee (ZZ) activity trackers. In addition, 16 participants (mean age 8.6 years [SD 1.6]; 50% female [8/16]) received all three trackers and were oriented to the devices and websites. Participants were instructed to wear the trackers on 4 consecutive days and spend ≥10 min/day on each website. A cognitive interview and survey were administered when the participant returned the devices. Qualitative data analysis was used to analyze the content of the cognitive interviews. Chi-square analyses were used to determine differences in behavioral monitoring and social interaction features between websites.

Results: The MB, SQ, and ZZ devices or websites included 8, 15, and 14 of the possible 36 BCTs, respectively. All of the websites had a behavioral monitoring feature (charts for tracking activity), but the percentage of participants indicating that they “liked” those features varied by website (MB: 8/16, 50%; SQ: 6/16, 38%; ZZ: 11/16, 69%). Two websites (SQ and ZZ) included an “avatar” that the user could create to represent themselves on the website. Participants reported that they “liked” creating and changing their avatar (SQ: 12/16, 75%, ZZ: 15/16, 94%), which was supported by the qualitative analyses of the cognitive interviews. Most participants (75%) indicated that they would want to wear the devices more if their friends were wearing a tracker. No significant differences were observed between SQ and ZZ devices in regards to liking or use of social support interaction features (P=.21 to .37).

Conclusions: The websites contained several BCTs consistent with previously identified strategies. Children “liked” the social aspects of the websites more than the activity tracking features. Developers of commercial activity trackers for youth may benefit from considering a theoretical perspective during the website design process.







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