Wearable activity trackers and social media have been identified as having the potential to increase physical activity among adolescents, yet little is known about the perceived ease of use and perceived usefulness of the technology by adolescents.
The aim of this study was to use the technology acceptance model to explore adolescents’ acceptance of wearable activity trackers used in combination with social media within a physical activity intervention.
The Raising Awareness of Physical Activity study was a 12-week physical activity intervention that combined a wearable activity tracker (Fitbit Flex) with supporting digital materials that were delivered using social media (Facebook). A total of 124 adolescents aged 13 to 14 years randomized to the intervention group (9 schools) participated in focus groups immediately post intervention. Focus groups explored adolescents’ perspectives of the intervention and were analyzed using pen profiles using a coding framework based on the technology acceptance model.
Adolescents reported that Fitbit Flex was useful as it motivated them to be active and provided feedback about their physical activity levels. However, adolescents typically reported that Fitbit Flex required effort to use, which negatively impacted on their perceived ease of use. Similarly, Facebook was considered to be a useful platform for delivering intervention content. However, adolescents generally noted preferences for using alternative social media websites, which may have impacted on negative perceptions concerning Facebook’s ease of use. Perceptions of technological risks included damage to or loss of the device, integrity of data, and challenges with both Fitbit and Facebook being compatible with daily life.
Wearable activity trackers and social media have the potential to impact adolescents’ physical activity levels. The findings from this study suggest that although the adolescents recognized the potential usefulness of the wearable activity trackers and the social media platform, the effort required to use these technologies, as well as the issues concerning risks and compatibility, may have influenced overall engagement and technology acceptance. As wearable activity trackers and social media platforms can change rapidly, future research is needed to examine the factors that may influence the acceptance of specific forms of technology by using the technology acceptance model.
Australian and New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12616000899448; https://www.anzctr.org.au/Trial/Registration/TrialReview.aspx?id=370716