Physical Activity Surveillance in Children and Adolescents using Smartphone Technology: Systematic Review

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review


Self-reported physical activity (PA) questionnaires have traditionally been used for PA surveillance in children and adolescents, especially in free-living conditions. Objective measures are more accurate at measuring PA, but high cost often creates a barrier for their use in low- and middle-income settings. The advent of smartphone technology has greatly influenced mobile health and has offered new opportunities in health research, including PA surveillance.

This review aimed to systematically explore the use of smartphone technology for PA surveillance in children and adolescents, specifically focusing on the use of smartphone apps.

A literature search was conducted using 5 databases (PubMed, Scopus, CINAHL, MEDLINE, and Web of Science) and Google Scholar to identify articles relevant to the topic that were published from 2008 to 2023. Articles were included if they included children and adolescents within the age range of 5 to 18 years; used smartphone technology as PA surveillance; had PA behavioral outcomes such as energy expenditure, step count, and PA levels; were written in English; and were published between 2008 and 2023.

We identified and analyzed 8 studies (5 cross-sectional studies and 3 cohort studies). All participants were aged 12-18 years, and all studies were conducted in high-income countries only. Participants were recruited from schools, primary care facilities, and voluntarily. Five studies used mobile apps specifically and purposely developed for the study, whereas 3 studies used mobile apps downloadable from the Apple App Store and Android Play Store. PA surveillance using these apps was conducted from 24 hours to 4 weeks.

Evidence of PA surveillance using smartphone technology in children and adolescents was insufficient, which demonstrated the knowledge gap. Additional research is needed to further study the feasibility and validity of smartphone apps for PA surveillance among children and adolescents, especially in low- and middle-income countries.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere42461
Number of pages13
JournalJMIR Pediatrics and Parenting
Publication statusPublished - 29 Mar 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 JMIR Pediatrics and Parenting. All rights reserved.

Structured keywords

  • SPS Exercise, Nutrition and Health Sciences


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