"Why get young people increasingly thicker?" (Der Standard) or "Youth too thick and inflexible?" (ORF) are examples of headlines which inspired us to develop the project AktivE Jugend (ActivE Youth). New Media starting with the introduction of television followed by Video to DVDs and computer games are often made responsible for the lack of movement and exercise outdoors of young people. The widespread use of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablet computers among young people has changed this situation.
Instead of blaming new media that children and young people increasingly stay at home and are less physically active, the possibilities and opportunities; which particularly offer mobile devices - are to be examined to determine what contribution they can make to reduce the lack of movement of young people.
Playful and communicative instruments on mobile devices, which are used by young people every day, can create incentives and motivation for choosing active forms of mobility. Due to the heterogeneous composition of the group of young people and the rapid changes of youth trends, there is little knowledge about how young people move in public space, how many active forms of mobility (in daily life and in leisure time) they choose. Furthermore, the contribution of these different activities to their health has not been researched sufficiently. The impact of the use of mobile devices (location based games, location based services, etc.) on the movement and mobility patterns of young people has not been clarified enough so far.
The project ActivE Youth studies possibilities and opportunities of mobile devices and the contribution they can make to reduce physical inactivity of young citizens.
Through the interplay of (traffic) planning-, social science and sports science approaches, the complex mobility and movement patterns of young people are analysed integrative. The aim is to develop an interdisciplinary set of tools for the analysis and to test the potential of new media to stimulates active mobility.
Because of the interdisciplinary cooperation of traffic planners, landscape architects, and sports scientists, in the ActivE Youth project interactions between spatial conditions, traffic planning and motion aspects as well as health effects are getting analysed for the first time in an integrative approach. Starting point of this analysis is the current mobility behaviour of adolescents (in collaboration with schools) by using jointly different discipline-specific survey methods. By using triangulation as methodological approach this multilayer phenomenon of youthful movement and youthful activity patterns is analysed from different perspectives and with different approaches.
In a second step - in a "living lab" together with the young people involved - possibilities in utilizing new media, and mobile devices to provide the impetus for changes in mobility behaviour are being explored and new instruments promoting physical activity in daily life will be developed with the young people.
The open approach of "living labs" allows developing appropriate instruments together with the target group. Changes in mobility behaviour resulting from this intervention are first tested with the group of young people who have participated in the living labs and afterwards the potential impacts are tested with a control group.