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Cellphones to keep an eye on teen health Vlad Jecan | , 5:06 p.m. April 5, 2008 2008-04-05

Walking on the sidewalk, in buses, trains and in any public transportation station we see teens highly engaged in their activity of having a conversation with their friends through the modern technology of mobile phones. Studies have showed that most of the time cellphones are inseparable from their teen owners, investigations conducted by scientists show that girls take their phones wherever they go.

In Indianapolis the Indiana University School of Medicine conducted a study on 15 teenage girls to track down their whereabouts when they were not home or at school. This research was not meant to satisfy the curiosity of parents but to give hints on the adolescent’s health risks, or at least this is what researchers are trying to achieve.

Past studies show that teenagers spent very little time at home or at school. An important part of the day is spent away from those two places. In the Journal of Adolescent Health, an article explains that girls stay away from home or school for more that one quarter of a day and like to spend their weekends as far away as possible.

Scientists at the Indiana University School of Medicine are using GPS-enabled cellphones to show them where teenagers spent their time and what they do. This has nothing to do at first sight with keeping an eye on their health, but Dr. Sarah E. Wiehe, the lead researcher on the study explains that every action undertook may affect health in some way. By using this type of technology they want to send text messages to teens who are about to do something that would affect their health. For example, when an adolescent is in a bar considering consuming alcoholic drinks or smoking, he will receive a text message probably telling him not to. This, in the researchers’ opinion may have a greater impact unlike a TV commercial discouraging smoking, taking drugs or anything else unhealthy.

Experts believe that cellphones may be used to stock information on the spot, not only their whereabouts but the device can work as information recording tool, thus acting as a ‘diary”. This function has a high level of importance since researchers had to ask their subjects to recall everything they did in a specific day; this may not be a proper way to collect health information.

Using this technology of GPS-enabled phone, experts have been able to track every movement of their subjects, but they won’t give any information to parents, but there are services that would do just that.

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