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The use of SMS messaging for physical activity promotion : preferences of Australian adolescents and their parents

By Jerome N. Rachele, Thomas F. Cuddihy, Tracy L. Washington and Steven McPhail


OBJECTIVE: Recent increases in youth mobile phone ownership and usage may provide a unique and innovative opportunity for engagement by health promoters, via a familiar and immediately accessible medium. This study investigated adolescents’ and their parents’ preferences for promoting physical activity via means of SMS messaging. METHODS: Adolescents (36 males and 76 females) and their parents (37 males 75 females) were recruited from two non-denominational same-sex private schools, in Brisbane, Australia. The mean age and standard deviation (SD) for adolescents and parents was 14.03 (0.58) and 47.18 (4.65) respectively. Participants responded to a series of questions regarding mobile phone ownership, and preferences for physical activity, school-based physical activity programs, and programs invovling SMS messaging. Data analysis included descriptive statistics and frequency distributions. T-tests were employed to measure gender effect. RESULTS: Overall, 47 (42%) parents desired their child to be more physically active, and were interested for their child to participate in a school-based physical activity program. Of those parents, 16 (34%) parents were interested in their child participating in an SMS-based physical activity program, with 21 (45%) not interested, and 10 (21%) neutral. One hundred and four (95%) adolescents owned a mobile phone, with 84 (82%) of those adolescents wanting to be more physically active. Of those adolescents, 14 (17%) were interested in participating in an SMS-based physical activity program, with 40 (48%) not interested, and 30 (36%) neutral. There was no significant gender effect. CONCLUSIONS: Although SMS messaging may provide an innovative method for youth physical activity promotion, low levels of interest are concerning. These results differ from other studies utilising SMS messaging for the purpose of health promotion, where more positive feedback from participants were reported. A screening process to gauge interest prior to the implementation of any SMS-based health promotion program may prove invaluable toward the success of the program

Publisher: Turkish Archives of Pediatrics
Year: 2013
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