FitBits are activity trackers by an American brand of the same name. Despite their recent surge in popularity, they were actually first introduced in 2008 in San Francisco.
The devices measure your number of steps, heart rate, quality of sleep, and other personal metrics. Put plainly, they are purposed to help you eat a more well-rounded diet, engage in more activity, get more sleep, and ultimately be a healthier person.
A Fitbit is essentially a 21st-century pedometer with up-to-date technology.
Being approximately the size of a clothes pin, the actual device is shaped like a clip and can easily be slid into a pocket or bra, which means they can be quite covert. The tracker is sensitive enough to differentiate between light and intense exercise and calculates how many calories have been burned. As the user becomes active, the flower avatar grows. In opposition, the icon becomes smaller when you are idle.
There is always a very fine line between encouraging healthy activity and administering obsessive behaviour. Obviously, if used correctly, Fitbits can be amazing for promoting a healthy lifestyle and making the wearer understand more about what they put their body through each day and how well they support it. This can be great for anyone, not just those looking to lose or gain weight. It can be useful for everyone to know more about their body and how they can use it to even greater functionality.
Nevertheless, even just considering the basic growth and neglect of the flower avatar, it seems that technology can not simply act as personal well-being managers. Technology cannot provide the subjectivity that a person can. It can not accurately measure your relationship with the device and your levels of self-confidence, image, and happiness.
Stroud High School in Gloucestershire was growing increasingly concerned about its pupils’ engagement with technology, social media, and fitness trackers. The girls’ school recently sent out a letter to parents outlining the tight controls that it will be putting in place from September to prohibit devices capable of accessing social media, including phones and all smart technology, like smart watches and FitBits.
With girls discussing their calorie counting and lunch amendments to fit their tracking devices, the school believe they have a duty to perturb ill mental health amongst its students. The head teacher has stated, “If not addressed, we open the doors for social media to cause significant problems for young peoples’ mental health and well-being.” Although Stroud High recently made headlines over its new regulations, there are of course many schools that already operate under similar policies. A large number of schools discourage the use of mobile phones, due to the role it can play in bullying, isolation, and competition.
What could be a really great device to promote a healthy lifestyle amongst the younger generation may in fact, for schools, just be another addition to the ongoing battle of smart technology.
Words: Steph Ryan