Nav: Home

Exercise, diet and wellness apps are powerful learning resources for young people -- study finds

November 07, 2018

Research undertaken at the University of Birmingham has found that young people are able to judge which health related apps are relevant to their age and bodies, are able to source appropriate digital content as well as dismiss app content that might be harmful to them.

The research published today (Wednesday 7th November 2018) in the journal Learning, Media and Technology, states that many young people are 'critical participants' of digital health technologies and as apps and devices are highly accessible, they can offer private spaces in which to engage in health related activities, away from communal spaces that young people may find intimidating.

A sample of 245 young people aged from 13 - 18 across the UK took part in the research project. The key findings of the study suggest that one third of the participants were active users of apps and devices related to exercise, diet and wellness. The researchers also found that schools, PE lessons and sport, peers and parents were powerful influencers over the types of apps and devices young people used, but that many of the participants were able to disregard content that was either irrelevant to them, potentially harmful to their bodies, or simply 'boring'.

The researchers also found that the young people in the study thought through their uses of apps in an informed way. They had very high levels of knowledge and understanding of health related apps and were able to engage with the technologies on a trial and error basis, either dismissing or adopting the apps.

Some of the young people abandoned use of the apps at an early stage - this was because of the design of the technologies and the fact that they were focussed on the needs of adults.

Dr Victoria Goodyear, from the University of Birmingham's School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences, who led the research said: 'There are currently over 160,000 health apps available on the major app stores focussed on wellness, diet and exercise and they are of particular interest to young people, however most of these apps are designed for adults. Health apps and devices have the potential to act as very engaging and attractive health promotion tools that could for example, help young people to learn about their bodies or improve their physical activity levels.

'Our research has shown that young people think through their uses of health apps and devices in impressive and well-informed ways. For some young people, they use apps to find information related to their bodies, and they can do this without an adult, and in ways that work around the school pressures of homework. However, not all young people experience positive impacts. For some, there tends to be a novelty period- where the use of apps are rarely sustained - such as in the case of PokemonGo. For others, they can develop very narrow views on health. There was evidence in our data that some young people learnt that effective exercises were those that "hurt" and resulted in pain.

'What the findings do highlight is that adults need to be more understanding of the opportunities, challenges and pitfalls of digital technologies for young people's health and wellbeing - and that we should not associate technology with, solely, health-related risks. Certainly, health education can be enhanced by learning from the ways in which young people access, select and use digital health technologies.'

University of Birmingham

Related Learning Articles:

School spending cuts triggered by great recession linked to sizable learning losses for learning losses for students in hardest hit areas
Substantial school spending cuts triggered by the Great Recession were associated with sizable losses in academic achievement for students living in counties most affected by the economic downturn, according to a new study published today in AERA Open, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Educational Research Association.
Lessons in learning
A new Harvard study shows that, though students felt like they learned more from traditional lectures, they actually learned more when taking part in active learning classrooms.
Learning to look
A team led by JGI scientists has overhauled the perception of inovirus diversity.
Sleep readies synapses for learning
Synapses in the hippocampus are larger and stronger after sleep deprivation, according to new research in mice published in JNeurosci.
Learning from experience is all in the timing
Animals learn the hard way which sights, sounds, and smells are relevant to survival.
More Learning News and Learning Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Erasing The Stigma
Many of us either cope with mental illness or know someone who does. But we still have a hard time talking about it. This hour, TED speakers explore ways to push past — and even erase — the stigma. Guests include musician and comedian Jordan Raskopoulos, neuroscientist and psychiatrist Thomas Insel, psychiatrist Dixon Chibanda, anxiety and depression researcher Olivia Remes, and entrepreneur Sangu Delle.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#537 Science Journalism, Hold the Hype
Everyone's seen a piece of science getting over-exaggerated in the media. Most people would be quick to blame journalists and big media for getting in wrong. In many cases, you'd be right. But there's other sources of hype in science journalism. and one of them can be found in the humble, and little-known press release. We're talking with Chris Chambers about doing science about science journalism, and where the hype creeps in. Related links: The association between exaggeration in health related science news and academic press releases: retrospective observational study Claims of causality in health news: a randomised trial This...