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The challenge of repurposed technologies for youth: Understanding the unique affordances of digital self-tracking for adolescents

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jats:p Adults’ digital self-tracking practices are relatively well studied, but these pre-existing models of digital self-tracking do not fit for how adolescents use these technologies. We apply the mechanisms-and-conditions framework of affordance theory to examine adolescents’ imagined affordances of self-tracking apps and devices. Based on qualitative data from an online survey of 16- to 18-year-olds in the United Kingdom, we find the following three key themes in how adolescents imagine the affordances of digital self-tracking: (1) the variability of use across adolescents and with adults, (2) the role of the social control of data in school settings, and (3) the salience of social comparisons among their peers. Using these findings, we show how social and institutional configurations come to matter for technological affordances. By examining adolescents’ imagined affordances for self-tracking, we suggest self-tracking research move away from a “one size fits all approach” and begin to highlight the differences in practices from adults and across adolescents. </jats:p>



Adolescent, affordances, digital technologies, school, self-tracking, self-tracking in everyday life, social comparison, survey

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New Media and Society

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SAGE Publications


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