Mission possible: Using ubiquitous social goal sharing technology to promote physical activity in children

Kelly Mackintosh, Gerrit Niezen, Parisa Eslambolchilar


Objective: The present study investigates the acceptability of a novel ubiquitous social goal-sharing intervention aimed at promoting physical activity (PA) in schoolchildren. Methods: Thirty children (18 boys; 10.1±0.3 years; 1.39±0.06 m; 19.85±4.03 kg∙m-2) were randomly assigned to ten groups and outfitted with Fitbit monitors. Video-clips describing mission-based activities were shown on iPads each week, for four consecutive weeks. An LED lighting-strip provided visual feedback on daily group PA levels. Three semi-structured group interviews were conducted with 10 children (4 boys, 6 girls; n=2) and two teachers (n=1). Additionally, at baseline and post-intervention, seven-day accelerometry, cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF; 20m shuttle run test), anthropometrics and physical self-perceptions were assessed. Data were analysed using a mixed “between-within" analysis of variance (ANOVA). Results: Children stated that peers were positive role models and provided encouragement to accomplish their goals. Teachers noted that children’s fitness, teamwork and problem-solving skills considerably improved. Statistical analyses revealed no significant intervention effect (p>0.05), though BMI and waist circumference increased and CRF decreased. Conclusion: The integration of ubiquitous social goal-sharing technology in schools was well received among both teachers and pupils. Future studies should integrate a larger sample size encompassing numerous schools, comparison groups, and a longer intervention period with associated follow-up measurements, in order to ascertain the feasibility of this intervention as a low-cost way to promote children’s PA levels.


Ambient display, gamification, intervention, visual feedback

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.15282/mohe.v5i2.115