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by Renata Smith, MPH


In this growing era of ‘wearable tech’, from Google Glass to the forthcoming Apple watch, our lives are increasingly intertwined with technology. What comes along with this every day technology is vast amounts of digital data. The scale is such that terms like exabyte (1 billion gigabytes) exist, and “Big Data” is now a common phrase. Big Data refers not only to the almost incomprehensible amounts of data being generated and stored but also to the ability to extract new insights from this data.

 
 
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by Nicole Witham

“6 floors today. I definitely climbed more than that. Let’s see, once in the morning, a couple flights in the afternoon, then...oh. Well, I did walk to the coffee maker more than usual today. That must count, right?” That is my internal dialogue after wearing my physical activity monitor for the day and noticing my sub-par activity.

 
 
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by Renata Smith, MPH

We already know that lack of sleep is bad for your health.  Chelsea Jenter and Elizabeth Cespedes highlighted how screen time limits sleep and that poor sleep is associated with obesity, poor cognition, and children’s behavior. Much of this prior literature has focused on the impact of television screen time on children’s sleep, especially the presence of TVs in children’s bedrooms. But what about small screens (smart phones, iPads, iPods, etc.)?

 
 
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by Renata Smith, MPH


Exposure to media and advertising has been linked to consumption of low-nutrient foods in children. The bulk of food advertising is for high-calorie, low-nutrient foods, such as sugary cereals, fast foods, candy, and soda. Traditional methods of advertising include television commercials, popular character licensing, and athlete endorsements. As technology advances, “new media” advertising on social media, mobile devices, and the Internet has also evolved. If you use Facebook, you may have noticed “sponsored posts” that now show up in your newsfeed (as a runner, I see targeted ads from race organizers, gear companies, etc., for example).

 
 
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by Renata Smith, MPH


In addition to text messaging interventions for obesity prevention and management, researchers are using mobile applications (‘apps’) as a means of supporting participants in their weight loss or maintenance journey. The world is fascinated with apps for all aspects of life. As of June 2014, a staggering 75 billion apps of any kind have been downloaded from the Apple App Store, with 50 billion more downloaded from the Google Play store. So, it makes sense to take advantage of such a large study population of app users.

 
 
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by Elizabeth Cespedes, MS


Children in the United States consume an average of 7 hour/day of screen media.  Television is the biggest culprit, but time spent on cellular phones, in front of the computer, on a tablet, or playing video games contribute a good bit of that time too.

Screen media is present throughout children’s lives – at school, in free time and even in bedrooms. But is this constant exposure bad for children’s health? The answer seems to be yes, especially because of the link between excessive screen time and less sleep. Multiple studies have found that more time spent viewing television or other screen media predicts less daily sleep in children, from infancy through adolescence. Having a television or a computer in the bedroom is worse, leading to more total media use, and regardless of this total use, to a later bedtime and fewer hours of sleep.


 
 
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by Chrissy Horan, MPH


You can probably count on one hand the number of people you know who do not text. And the younger you are, the more common texting is among your peers. Specifically among teenagers, texting is popular with 12-17 year olds sending more than 5 times the number of texts per day as adults. In a prior post, Renata Smith already discussed the rising use of text messaging for weight loss and the state of the literature.   

We learned in focus groups with parents that they were more likely to read messages because they were brief, immediate and “hard to ignore”. Just think about how many unread text messages are on your phone versus unread emails in your inbox.

In addition to its rising use to encourage weight loss, text messaging has become an important way to share all sorts of health information. Studies have used text messaging to influence smoking cessation, asthma management, sunscreen application, heart failure self-management, prenatal care and medication adherence.