Can Technology change our habits?

Technology gadgets have succeeded in tracking our behavior. For example, Fitbits act as a pedometer and motivate us to walk 10,000 steps per day. But, are fitbits and other habit building gadgets actually creating new, healthy habits?

There is new category of apps. Ms. Shull, an MIT professor, explains in a NYT article,

“nudging technology, includes “hydration reminder” apps like Waterlogged that exhort people to increase their water consumption; the HAPIfork, a utensil that vibrates and turns on a light indicator when people eat too quickly; and Thync, “neurosignaling” headgear that delivers electrical pulses intended to energize or relax people.

But, it is unclear if this technology is successful at creating new habits in people.

Industry executives, however, argue that devices that simply collect and display numerical information about users’ behavior are unlikely to spur them to make durable changes in their habits. People typically use fitness activity trackers for only four to six months and then lose interest, says Dr. Nick van Terheyden, the chief medical information officer of Nuance Communications, a language-processing and voice technology company.

The old data collecting apps don’t produce long term results. But, maybe, social health apps will. Fitbit groups work for families and people because they use familiar competition.

Ultimately, it’s up to us to make a concerted effort to change our habits.

2 thoughts on “Can Technology change our habits?

  1. Changing habits are the most difficult challenges we face in life. Unfortunately, we probably fail at most of those attempts. Therefore, it is up to the parents to train their children from the beginning to build good habits. The influence that parents have on the succeeding generation is enormous. Yet how much training do we offer parents in how to succeed in their most important role?


  2. I’m glad you didn’t start this off… My fianc? was soooo excited to get a Fitbit and a few months later she barely remembers to charge it 😉

    Best, Mikhayla


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