mHealth Day 2: BodiMojo Aims to Make Health Fun for Teens

Article

On the afternoon of mHealth's second day, one presentations really stood out and warranted some more reflection; it was the presentation of a social networking site for teens aimed at preventing/combating obesity. The site is called BodiMojo and the presenters were Tara Cousineau, PhD and Carol Torgan, PhD.

On the afternoon of mHealth’s second day, one presentations really stood out and warranted some more reflection; it was the presentation of a social networking site for teens aimed at preventing/combating obesity. The site is called BodiMojo and the presenters were Tara Cousineau, PhD and Carol Torgan, PhD.

Cousineau and Torgan began by throwing out a number of disconcerting health statistics about today’s teens. For instance, 75% of teens are unhappy with their bodies and 17% are considered overweight. But perhaps the most telling statistic that segued perfectly into the presentation was the fact that health habits by most teens are formed by age 20. When you take a minute to reflect on just how significant that is, it’s no wonder that childhood obesity often leads to many, more severe problems later in life.

So, how exactly is BodiMojo attempting to capture the attention of teams so that they can help them get into healthier habits? Let me count the ways…

Well, first and foremost, the visionaries behind BodiMojo were extremely cognizant of the fact that, without interactivity, the site would fail. With this in mind, they seem to have made every effort to keep teens on the site engaged, whether it’s through games, forums, invitations to write for the site for byline credit, or any other number of ideas that they have already implemented.

Secondly, the site does a nice job of providing fun and engaging incentives. Cousineau mentioned that BodiMojo made an effort to provide pedometers to high schools in an effort to raise awareness of the number of steps that are recommended for these teens in a day. Cousineau then said that, after the teens were educated on the recommended number of steps they should be taking in a day (somewhere in the neighborhood of 12,000), they were initially bewildered and thought that was not an achievable number. But after walking during a regular school day and realizing they took 6,000 steps, some were actually motivated to achieve the recommended goal, just by having the information at their disposal. It's this kind of positive reinforcement that will help to ingrain healthy habits in teens. And, when users achieve their health goals, they are rewarded with badges and words of praise throughout the site, further reinforcing the good feeling that goes along with living a healthy lifestyle.

The third important idea behind engaging teens on BodiMojo is to serve the users appropriate content based on what they are reading/writing or how they are responding to interactive quizzes on the site. For instance, if it turns out that a teen is displaying self-image problems based on their interaction with the site, they will then start to see customized content that is aimed at helping them better understand how to cope and overcome that negative self-image.

FInally, BodiMojo knows what works and isn't out to reinvent the wheel. Even though there are already many Facebook features incorporated into the site, there are efforts to integrate the existings accounts of teens into their own BodiMojo account, which should no doubt help in recruiting more people for their network. And they are also working toward a mobile application, which is a necessity for today's teen.

BodiMojo has many obstacles to overcome; after all, there’s no shortage of social media platforms in today’s world. However, with the help of some parents and through some data mining that is currently going on at the company, hopefully this program will take off and start to influence today’s youth. The next generation stands a lot to gain if it does.

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