Are we fit yet? English adolescent girls’ experiences of health and fitness apps

2016-07-06T11:06:56Z (GMT) by Annaleise Depper P. David Howe
In recent years, society has witnessed a proliferation of digital technologies facilitate new ways to monitor young people’s health. This paper explores a group of English adolescent girls’ understandings of ‘health’ promoted by health and fitness related technologies. Five focus group meetings with the same 8 girls, aged between 14 and 17, were conducted to explore their experiences of using health and fitness apps. The girls’ understandings of the digitised body are examined through a Foucauldian lens, with particular attention to conceptualisations of bio-power and technologies of the self. The data reveal how the girls negotiated, and at times critiqued, the multiple health discourses that are manifest through digital health technologies and performative health culture. The results emphasise that individual-based applications (apps) remove the social and interactive elements of physical activity valued by the girls. This research highlights the possibilities digital technologies provide for health promotion, yet also illuminates the limitations of these technologies if used uncritically and inappropriately.