Response to “Young People’s Use of Wearables Healthy Lifestyle Technologies…”
This article brings up some good points that underlie a lot of technologies.
When reading Victoria A. Goodyear, Charlotte Kerner, and Mikael Queenerstedt’s study of 100 youths ages 13 to 14 years old I was struck by how they framed resistance to self-surveillance.
I commented before in my “Data for Life” response that a primary concern I had about wearables in tech and the rhetoric surrounding them is that the assumption that these systems work for everyone is a huge oversight.
‘Data For Life’ Displays Some of U.S. Health Care’s Continued Blindspots
The abundance of wearable tech in the health and wellness space has some blindspots.
This article supported that statement when the youths brought up activities they did that wouldn’t register and the way they started to recognize that taking more steps didn’t necessarily equate to more exercise or being healthier.
Furthermore, the student’s resistance to the prescribed goal of 10,000 steps also further bolstered this point. An example is one subject’s interview that says:
“I think you should have your own target for you to…because some people do more exercise than others, and some people walk more, some people are fitter than others…everyone is different.”
Furthermore, it seems that the gamification of the FitBit had the adverse effect of encouraging these students to cheat by shaking their hands to boost their numbers. This doesn’t help anyone in the short or long term and makes me wonder exactly how effective gamification in wearables can be.
While it may be exciting to get this information about yourself, the fact that some students abandoned it because they didn’t track as well against their peers also felt counterproductive to the final goals of FitBit.
This all leads me to wonder what companies that attempt to produce wearables for mass consumption intend to accomplish. Are they looking to improve the lives of consumers or are they looking to sell devices and play on a culture that is unhealthy and is constantly being told to do better?
If it’s the latter then we can’t expect any prescribed system to work for any length of time and any wearables created in this space might just be ephemera.