Background: Obesity is a major healthcare problem in youth and their social/electronic media (SEM) use has been described as a risk factor. Though much is known about the newer technologies youth use to communicate, little is known about what is used by those in weight management programs. The aim of this study was to determine what types of SEM, including sedentary and active video games, youth in weight management programs use and which they prefer for communicating with healthcare providers.
Methods/design: This was a multisite study using a 24-question online SurveyMonkey® questionnaire. Youth, 12-17 years old, attending pediatric weight management programs at seven participating centers in the Childhood Obesity Multi Program Analysis and Study System network were eligible.
Results: There were 292 responders with a mean age of 14.2 years. Fifty-four percent were female, 36% Caucasian, 35% African American, and 33% were Hispanic. Ninety-four percent had access to a computer, 71% had Internet access, and 63% had smartphones. Whereas 87% had at least one gaming system at home, 50% reported they never played sedentary video games (71% of females vs. 25% males; p < 0.0001) and 63% never played exercise video games during the week. The preferred method of communication with a healthcare provider was face to face (60%), with few indicating a preference for communication by texting (13%), phone (12%), or social media (6%).
Conclusions: Face-to-face communication with healthcare providers is the preferred method for youth in pediatric weight management programs. They self-reported video game use less than previously described.