The researchers studied around 30 children, aged five to 13, for eight weeks. All the children attended three education sessions with their parents and were given a pedometer to monitor their physical activity.
Two thirds of the children were then given either a mobile phone or paper diary to self-monitor their consumption of sugary drinks and time spent watching TV, while the remainder acted as controls. Those in the phone intervention group were required to send a text – one from the child and one from a parent – each day with relevant information, which received a feedback message.
The researchers found that 43% of the children in the text messaging group adhered to daily self-monitoring, compared to just 19% of the paper diary group. Additionally, a smaller number of the phone intervention group dropped out of the study early compared to the other groups.
The authors said: ‘By using technology we were hoping to make self-monitoring seem more like fun and less like work.’
Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior (2008) 40: 385-391