Fitbits Discourage Some Teens From Exercising, Study Finds

CBS Local– Fitbits were made to help the average person better understand their levels of activity (or inactivity), providing helpful insights to promote fitness. However, according to a new study, some teens get discouraged from trying to be active because of their Fitbits.

Researchers from Brunel University London, the University of Birmingham in England, had 84 children aged 13 and 14 wear a Fitbit for eight weeks and take part in interviews throughout. The hypothesis was that the Fitbits would encourage the kids to be more active, but it actually had the opposite effect as the majority came away feeling inadequate.

“It was consistently reported that after about 4 weeks pupils became bored with the Fitbit,” the study read. “This evidence suggests that though the Fitbit serves to promote physical activity, for the pupils in this study, the Fitbit may have only produced modest and short-term effects.”

One reason was the sweeping, one-size-fits-all goal of 10,000 steps per day. The 13 and 14 year olds found that to be a bit excessive, but still felt guilt whenever they couldn’t reach that goal.

“Data from this study demonstrated that though clear potential exists, healthy lifestyle technologies negatively impact young people’s motivation for physical activity,” the study reads. “Competition, peer comparison and social comparison to normative predetermined targets result in only short-term motivational effects.”

In fact, after the “novelty” effect wore off, there weren’t many positives to wearing Fitbits. On top of that, it became a competition between friends for who could do the most. Personal fitness isn’t a competition against others, it’s about bettering yourself everyday.

“Our data suggests that peer-comparison was a key factor in undermining levels of competence and autonomous motivation,” said lead author Charlotte Kerner, via TechCrunch. “There wasn’t a desire for our participants to be more active for themselves and their own goals, or for fun, it was simply because they wanted to beat their mates.”

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