Author(s):

  • Jaimie Lee Freeman
  • Gina Neff

Abstract:

Adults’ digital self-tracking practices are relatively well studied, but these pre-existing models of digital self-tracking do not fit for how adolescents use these technologies. We apply the mechanisms-and-conditions framework of affordance theory to examine adolescents’ imagined affordances of self-tracking apps and devices. Based on qualitative data from an online survey of 16- to 18-year-olds in the United Kingdom, we find the following three key themes in how adolescents imagine the affordances of digital self-tracking: (1) the variability of use across adolescents and with adults, (2) the role of the social control of data in school settings, and (3) the salience of social comparisons among their peers. Using these findings, we show how social and institutional configurations come to matter for technological affordances. By examining adolescents’ imagined affordances for self-tracking, we suggest self-tracking research move away from a “one size fits all approach” and begin to highlight the differences in practices from adults and across adolescents.

Documentation

https://doi.org/10.1177/14614448211040266

References:
Apple . (2020) Apple watch: close your rings. Available at: https://www.apple.com/uk/watch/close-your-rings/ (Accessed 7 October 2020).
Google Scholar
Archibald, AB, Graber, JA, Brooks-Gunn, J (2003) Pubertal processes and physiological growth in adolescence. In: Adams, GR, Berzonsky, M (eds) Blackwell Handbook of Adolescence. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, pp. 24–47.
Google Scholar
boyd, d (2014) It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Google Scholar
Braun, V, Clarke, V (2006) Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology 3(2): 77–101.
Google Scholar | Crossref
Casey, A, Goodyear, VA, Armour, KM (2017) Rethinking the relationship between pedagogy, technology and learning in health and physical education. Sport, Education and Society 22(2): 288–304.
Google Scholar | Crossref
Cheney- Lippold, J (2018) We Are Data: Algorithms and the Making of Our Digital Selves. New York: New York University Press.
Google Scholar
Chung, C-F, Gorm, N, Shklovski, IA, et al. (2017) Finding the right fit: understanding health tracking in workplace wellness programs. In: Proceedings of the 20 CHI conference on 17 human factors in computing systems (CHI ’17), Denver, CO, 6–11 May 2017, pp. 4875–4886. New York: ACM Press.
Google Scholar | Crossref
Corcoran, K, Crusius, J, Mussweiler, T (2011) Social comparison: motives, standards, and mechanisms. In: Chadee, D (ed.) Theories in Social Psychology. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, pp. 119–139.
Google Scholar
Davies, C, Eynon, R (2013) Teenagers and Technology. London: Routledge. Available at: http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/oxford/detail.action?docID=1125213 (accessed 11 February 2020).
Google Scholar
Davis, JL (2020) How Artifacts Afford: The Power and Politics of Everyday Things. Design thinking, design theory. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Google Scholar | Crossref
Davis, JL, Chouinard, JB (2016) Theorizing affordances: from request to refuse. Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society 36(4): 241–248.
Google Scholar | SAGE Journals
De Vries, DA, Kühne, R (2015) Facebook and self-perception: individual susceptibility to negative social comparison on Facebook. Personality and Individual Differences 86: 217–221.
Google Scholar | Crossref | ISI
Depper, A, Howe, PD (2017) Are we fit yet? English adolescent girls’ experiences of health and fitness apps. Health Sociology Review 26(1): 98–112.
Google Scholar | Crossref
Dinsmore, B (2019) Contested affordances: teachers and students negotiating the classroom integration of mobile technology. Information, Communication & Society 22(5): 664–677.
Google Scholar | Crossref
Drehlich, M, Naraine, M, Rowe, K, et al. (2020) Using the technology acceptance model to explore adolescents’ perspectives on combining technologies for physical activity promotion within an intervention: usability study. Journal of Medical Internet Research 22(3): e15552.
Google Scholar | Crossref | Medline
Erikson, E (1968) Youth: Identity and Crisis. New York: W.W. Norton.
Google Scholar
Fardouly, J, Pinkus, RT, Vartanian, LR (2017) The impact of appearance comparisons made through social media, traditional media, and in person in women’s everyday lives. Body Image 20: 31–39.
Google Scholar | Crossref | Medline
Festinger, L (1954) A theory of social comparison processes. Human Relations 7(2): 117–140.
Google Scholar | SAGE Journals | ISI
Freeman, JL, Caldwell, PHY, Scott, KM (2020) The role of trust when adolescents search for and appraise online health information. The Journal of Pediatrics 221: 215–223.e5.
Google Scholar | Crossref | Medline
Gard, M (2014) eHPE: a history of the future. Sport, Education and Society 19(6): 827–845.
Google Scholar | Crossref
Gilmore, JN (2016) Everywear: the quantified self and wearable fitness technologies. New Media & Society 18(11): 2524–2539.
Google Scholar | SAGE Journals | ISI
Goodyear, VA, Armour, KM (2019) Young People, Social Media and Health. London: Taylor & Francis.
Google Scholar
Goodyear, VA, Armour, KM, Wood, H (2019a) Young people learning about health: the role of apps and wearable devices. Learning, Media and Technology 44(2): 193–210.
Google Scholar | Crossref
Goodyear, VA, Kerner, C, Quennerstedt, M (2019b) Young people’s uses of wearable healthy lifestyle technologies; surveillance, self-surveillance and resistance. Sport, Education and Society 24(3): 212–225.
Google Scholar | Crossref
Gorm, N, Shklovski, I (2016) Steps, choices and moral accounting: observations from a step-counting campaign in the workplace. In: Proceedings of the 19th ACM conference on computer-supported cooperative work & social computing, San Francisco CA, 27 February 2016, pp. 148–159. New York: ACM.
Google Scholar | Crossref
Gorm, N, Shklovski, I (2019) Episodic use: practices of care in self-tracking. New Media & Society 21(11–12): 2505–2521.
Google Scholar | SAGE Journals | ISI
Ho, SS, Lee, EW, Liao, Y (2016) Social network sites, friends, and celebrities: the roles of social comparison and celebrity involvement in adolescents’ body image dissatisfaction. Social Media + Society 2(3): 1–11.
Google Scholar | SAGE Journals
Kerner, C, Goodyear, VA (2017) The motivational impact of wearable healthy lifestyle technologies: a self-determination perspective on Fitbits with adolescents. American Journal of Health Education 48(5): 287–297.
Google Scholar | Crossref
Kristensen, DB, Ruckenstein, M (2018) Co-evolving with self-tracking technologies. New Media & Society 20(10): 3624–3640.
Google Scholar | SAGE Journals | ISI
Kumar, B, Robinson, R, Till, S (2015) Physical activity and health in adolescence. Clinical Medicine 15(3): 267–272.
Google Scholar | Crossref | Medline
Lomborg, S, Thylstrup, NB, Schwartz, J (2018) The temporal flows of self-tracking: checking in, moving on, staying hooked. New Media & Society 20(12): 4590–4607.
Google Scholar | SAGE Journals | ISI
Lupton, D (2013) Quantifying the body: monitoring and measuring health in the age of mHealth technologies. Critical Public Health 23(4): 393–403.
Google Scholar | Crossref | ISI
Lupton, D (2016) The Quantified Self. Cambridge: Polity Press.
Google Scholar
Lupton, D (2021) Young people’s use of digital health technologies in the global north: narrative review. Journal of Medical Internet Research 23(1): e18286.
Google Scholar | Crossref | Medline
Morris, ME (2018) Left to Our Own Devices: Outsmarting Smart Technology to Reclaim Our Relationships, Health, and Focus. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Google Scholar | Crossref
Nafus, D, Sherman, J (2014) This one does not go up to 11: the quantified self movement as an alternative big data practice. International Journal of Communication 8: 1784–1794.
Google Scholar | ISI
Nagy, P, Neff, G (2015) Imagined affordance: reconstructing a keyword for communication theory. Social Media+ Society 1(2): 1–9.
Google Scholar | SAGE Journals
Neff, G, Nafus, D (2016) Self-Tracking. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Google Scholar | Crossref
Neumark-Sztainer, D, Paxton, S, Hannan, P, et al. (2006) Does body satisfaction matter? Five-year longitudinal associations between body satisfaction and health behaviors in adolescent females and males. The Journal of Adolescent Health: Official Publication of the Society for Adolescent Medicine 39: 244–251.
Google Scholar | Crossref | Medline | ISI
Patton, GC, Sawyer, SM, Santelli, JS, et al. (2016) Our future: a Lancet commission on adolescent health and wellbeing. Lancet (London, England) 387(10036): 2423–2478.
Google Scholar | Crossref | Medline
Potapov, K, Vasalou, A, Lee, V, et al. (2021) What Do Teens Make of Personal Informatics? Youth Responses to Self-tracking Practices within a Classroom Setting. New York: ACM Press.
Google Scholar
Ragelienė, T (2016) Links of adolescents identity development and relationship with peers: a systematic literature review. Journal of the Canadian Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 25(2): 97–105.
Google Scholar | Medline
Reer, F, Tang, WY, Quandt, T (2019) Psychosocial well-being and social media engagement: the mediating roles of social comparison orientation and fear of missing out. New Media & Society 21: 1486–1505.
Google Scholar | SAGE Journals | ISI
Rich, E, Lewis, S, Lupton, D, et al. (2020) Digital Health Generation? Young People’s Use of “Healthy Lifestyle” Technologies. Bath: University of Bath.
Google Scholar
Rideout, VJ, Foehr, UG, Roberts, DF (2010) Generation M 2: Media in the Lives of 8-to 18-Year-Olds. Oakland, CA: Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.
Google Scholar
Ridgers, ND, Timperio, A, Brown, H, et al. (2018) Wearable activity tracker use among Australian adolescents: usability and acceptability study. JMIR mHealth and uHealth 6(4): e86.
Google Scholar | Crossref | Medline
Ruckenstein, M, Pantzar, M (2017) Beyond the quantified self: thematic exploration of a dataistic paradigm. New Media & Society 19(3): 401–418.
Google Scholar | SAGE Journals | ISI
Sanders, R (2017) Self-tracking in the digital era: biopower, patriarchy, and the new biometric body projects. Body & Society 23(1): 36–63.
Google Scholar | SAGE Journals | ISI
Saukko, P, Weedon, A (2020) Self-tracking of/and time: from technological to biographical and political temporalities of work and sitting. New Media & Society. Epub ahead of print 23 December. DOI: 10.1177/1461444820983324.
Google Scholar | SAGE Journals
Schaefer, SE, Ching, CC, Breen, H, et al. (2016) Wearing, thinking, and moving: testing the feasibility of fitness tracking with urban youth. American Journal of Health Education 47(1): 8–16.
Google Scholar | Crossref
Schüll, ND (2016) Data for life: wearable technology and the design of self-care. BioSocieties 11(3): 317–333.
Google Scholar | Crossref
Sharon, T, Zandbergen, D (2017) From data fetishism to quantifying selves: self-tracking practices and the other values of data. New Media & Society 19(11): 1695–1709.
Google Scholar | SAGE Journals | ISI
Thaler, RH, Sunstein, CR (2009) Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness. London: Penguin.
Google Scholar
Tymms, PB, Curtis, SE, Routen, AC, et al. (2016) Clustered randomised controlled trial of two education interventions designed to increase physical activity and well-being of secondary school students: the MOVE Project. BMJ Open 6(1): e009318.
Google Scholar | Crossref | Medline
Wartella, E, Rideout, V, Montague, H, et al. (2016) Teens, health and technology: a national survey. Media and Communication 4(3): 13–23.
Google Scholar | Crossref
Williamson, B (2015) Algorithmic skin: health-tracking technologies, personal analytics and the biopedagogies of digitized health and physical education. Sport, Education and Society 20(1): 133–151.
Google Scholar | Crossref | ISI
Wood, JV (1989) Theory and research concerning social comparisons of personal attributes. Psychological Bulletin 106(2): 231–248.
Google Scholar | Crossref | ISI
Yang, C, Holden, SM, Carter, MD, et al. (2018) Social media social comparison and identity distress at the college transition: a dual-path model. Journal of Adolescence 69: 92–102.
Google Scholar | Crossref | Medline
YoungMinds (2017) Wise Up Prioritising Wellbeing in Schools. London: YoungMinds.
Google Scholar
Zhu, Y, Dailey, SL, Kreitzberg, D, et al. (2017) “Social networkout”: connecting social features of wearable fitness trackers with physical exercise. Journal of Health Communication 22(12): 974–980.
Google Scholar | Crossref | Medline
Zimmer-Gembeck, MJ, Collins, WA (2003) Autonomy development during adolescence. In: Adams, GR, Berzonsky, M (eds) Blackwell Handbook of Adolescence. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, pp. 175–204.
Google Scholar
The SELF Institute