Could Wearables Motivate Our Teenagers?


Let me make this crystal clear: I love technology and how it is leading us into the future.

I love movies like Total Recall and Interstellar.

Social media drives a lot of behaviour within certain cultures and is taking over the way we perceive the world.

Recently I have had the pleasure of spending some time around teenagers and have realised that we are driven be technology – whether negatively or positively.

So, how can we get teenagers moving?

This is an important question, as there tends to be a massive drop-off in physical activity as they leave primary school and start secondary education.

From a fitness point of view, wearables are becoming the norm and are a way of building communities within a workout environment.

MYZONE has ‘gamified’ exercise by rewarding users – it uses a points system and league tables to reward those who make more effort to condition themselves.

So, we now have a social platform that connects you to people around the world, and you can compete regardless of your current level of fitness.

Here are just some of my views with regards to wearables:

1). Accountability

This is certainly important with teenagers. Motivation to move is reduced and therefore intrinsic drives are going to be much lower than external drives.

What the wearable does, especially for those with social connection opportunities, is to motivate by holding the user accountable to the friends and family members who are also taking part.

2). Data is king

Measuring progress is something I thrive on.

‘Before’ and ‘after’ photos are not enough these days (and I’ll add that these days are very shallow to say the least; I don’t think photos should be necessary, but on social media, they plague our young generation with a standard that is not realistic).

What wearables provide, depending on which system you use, is a measurement of calorific expenditure (this can be a little unreliable, but is reliable enough to let you know whether you’re making progress).

The measurement is related mostly to your HR and the other metrics you put into your profile, so it does vary depending on what type of data is used.

If, as with MYZONE, the system has a game with it too, you also get that competitive edge.

3). Connection

As previously mentioned, most wearables are now promoting a connection community, and people are becoming friends though their wearable technology.

It is one thing to be connected on Facebook, but to be connected through fitness sends a really powerful message into our social interaction. Using fitness as a way to bond is nothing new, but to be able to connect with someone in California when you live in good old Portsmouth is amazing.

4). Competition

If competition is your thing (and my belief is that there is a competitor in all of us, as long as we know we are on a level playing field and have a chance of winning), wearables can be a great way to monitor your progress against that of other people (from a points based perspective for wearables that have such a system).

That isn’t to say this is how they should be used, as I know there are lots of people already comparing themselves to body-beautifuls on Instagram and feeling bad about themselves.

Wearables don’t have to be comparison tools (at least not from my perspective), but their use of friendly competition can be another way to have a bonding session with your friends and family.


Fitness trackers related to work rate that use gamification need to be researched for their effects on adherence to exercise regimes in the teenage population.

Do they have a place in changing behaviour in our teenage population? There is obviously no one-size-fits-all approach to encouraging exercise (pun intended), but even if we can change the behaviour of 1% of those who are not active, we will have made a difference.

Move and groove, fitness fanatics.