Research Videos

Social Reflections on Fitness Tracking Data: A Study with Families in Low SES Neighborhoods

Wearable activity trackers can encourage physical activity (PA)—a behavior critical for preventing obesity and reducing the risks of chronic diseases. However, prior work has rarely explored how these tools can leverage family support or help people think about strategies for being active—two factors necessary for achieving regular PA. In this 2-month qualitative study, we investigated PA tracking practices amongst 14 families living in low-income neighborhoods, where obesity is prevalent. We characterize how social discussions of PA data rarely extended beyond the early stages of experiential learning, thus limiting the utility of PA trackers. Caregivers and children rarely analyzed their experiences to derive insights about the meaning of their PA data for their wellbeing. Those who engaged in these higher-order learning processes were often influenced by parenting beliefs shaped by personal health experiences. We contribute recommendations for how technology can more effectively support family experiential learning using PA tracking data.


Family Health Promotion in Low-SES Neighborhoods: A Two-Month Study of Wearable Activity Tracking

Low-socioeconomic status (SES) families face increased barriers to physical activity (PA)—a behavior critical for reducing and preventing chronic disease. Research has explored how wearable PA trackers can encourage increased activity, and how the adoption of such trackers is driven by people’s emotions and social needs. However, more work is needed to understand how PA trackers are perceived and adopted by low-SES families, where PA may be deprioritized due to economic stresses, limited resources, and perceived crime. Accordingly, we conducted a two-month, in-depth qualitative study, exploring low-SES caregivers’ perspectives on PA tracking and promotion. Our findings show how PA tracking was impacted by caregivers’ attitudes toward safety, which were influenced by how they perceived social connections within their neighborhoods; and cognitive-emotional processes. We conclude that PA tracking tools for low-SES families should help caregivers and children to experience and celebrate progress. (Paper)


Designing and Evaluating mHealth Interventions for Vulnerable Populations: A Systematic Review

Diverse disciplines, including Human-Computer Interaction have explored how mobile health (mHealth) applications can transform healthcare and health promotion. Increasingly, research has explored how mHealth tools can promote healthy behaviors within vulnerable populations—groups that disproportionately experience barriers to wellness. We conducted a systematic review of 83 papers from diverse disciplines to characterize the design and impact of mHealth tools in low-socioeconomic (low-SES) and racial/ethnic minority individuals. Our findings highlight that the diversity within low-SES and racial/ethnic minority groups was not reflected in the populations studied. Most studies focused on improving the health of individuals, often neglecting factors at the community and society levels that influence health disparities. Moreover, few improvements in health outcomes were demonstrated. We further discuss factors that acted as barriers and facilitators of mHealth intervention adoption. Our findings highlight trends that can drive critically needed digital health innovations for vulnerable populations. (Paper)


Social Computing-Driven Activism in Youth Empowerment Organizations: Challenges and Opportunities

Throughout the world, organizations empower youth to participate in civic engagement to impact social change, and adult-youth collaborations are instrumental to the success of such initiatives. However, little is known about how technology supports this activism work, despite the fact that tools such as Social Networking Applications (SNAs) are increasingly being leveraged in such contexts. We report results from a qualitative study of SNA use within a youth empowerment organization. Using the analytical lens of object-oriented publics, our findings reveal opportunities and challenges that youth and staff face when they use SNAs. We describe the illegibility of youth outreach efforts on SNAs, and how this illegibility complicated staff attempts to hold youth accountable. We also characterize how youth and staff differed in what they felt were socially appropriate uses of SNA features, and tensions that arose in the co-use of these tools. We conclude with implications for the design of collaborative technologies that support youth-led activism in organizational contexts. (Paper)


Youth Advocacy in SNAs: Challenges for Addressing Health Disparities

Social networking applications (SNAs) have been touted as promising platforms for activism: they provide a platform by which voices can be heard and collective action mobilized. Yet, little work has studied the suitability of existing SNAs for enabling youth advocacy efforts. We conducted an intensive 5-week qualitative study with 10th graders to understand how existing SNAs support and inhibit youth advocacy. We contribute to the field of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) by explicating several themes regarding the barriers youth face when using SNAs for advocacy, features in existing SNAs that are not suitable for youth advocacy, and the peer pressure youth perceive when advocating for serious issues in these environments. We conclude with recommendations for how existing SNA features could be reformed to better support youth advocacy. (Paper)


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