Guest Post: Three Tips NOT To Use When Using Mobile Tech With Teens
- November 10th, 2010
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Today’s Ypulse Guest Post is from Deb Levine, Executive Director and founder of sexual health nonprofit ISIS, Inc. Deb recently attended the mHealth Summit in Washington, DC. and came away somewhat disappointed with the panel on youth, mobile tech and health. I thought, in the spirit of helping future youth panel planners avoid similar missteps, I’d share her constructive criticisms with Ypulse readers. If you work in youth media or marketing and have an idea for a Ypulse Guest Post, email us!
Three Tips NOT To Use When Using Mobile Tech With Teens
I was in the midst of the hubbub at the second mHealth Summit in Washington, DC. This year, over 2500 participants from 40 countries were in attendance. This summit focuses on cross-sector (health and tech) collaboration in the use of mobile technology to improve health outcomes in the U.S. and around the world. Bill Gates did the luncheon keynote; very inspiring (and open to new ideas!).
I was delighted this year to see there was a panel on “Adolescence, Technology and Culture,” with discussion by Susannah Fox, one of my favorite researchers from the Pew Internet and American Life Center.
The panel covered a range of health issues relevant for teens, including safer sex, vaccines, asthma, liver transplants and lifestyle tracking. Huh?!?! What these presentations really had in common was that adults studied these particular topics using teens as the subjects. An inauspicious beginning. Over the next hour and a half, I learned what not to do when using mobile tech with teens.
Three Tips NOT to Use When Using Mobile Tech with Teens
1) Hand out smart phones in inner city neighborhoods.
- Two projects handed out thousands of smart phones in urban, low income environments and then were surprised that the phones were lost, service turned off, and apps deleted.
2) Make everything into a complicated app.
- One project created an app where youth had to download a survey, spend 20 minutes answering questions, then upload it in order to begin participation.
3) Assume that youth will only do what you ask them to do on their phone.
- Two projects seemed surprised when kids went to social networking sites, sent racy messages to their friends, and sent silly pics in addition to participating in the health project.
Many members of the audience were disappointed that the projects chosen for the panel. None took into consideration normal adolescent development (RIGHT NOW), youth culture (take advantage of what you’ve got), or technology (not a tool, but essential to youth’s lives).
Next year, I’m hoping that youth marketers who are doing fabulous things with mobile phones (obesity prevention, geotagging fitness games, suicide prevention, etc.) will submit abstracts for the mHealth Summit so we can have a more relevant discussion of Adolescence, Technology and Culture.
About Deb Levine
Deb Levine, MA, is the Executive Director and Founder of ISIS, Inc., a non-profit organization using tech and new media for sexual health promotion and HIV prevention. ISIS launched the first text messaging service for youth in the U.S., SexINFO, in 2006.