frog launches Tempt’d, a new app harnessing social networks for behavior change, to coincide with MTV’s docu-series about overweight teens transforming their health.
In the sea of status updates and tweets that compose our virtual conversations, new ways of understanding our own identities and relationships to our community are emerging. Nowhere is this behavior more apparent than with teens, who have grown up with social media and use it to express their passions, obsessions and experiences in real time. Understanding how integral social media is to teens and the potential it has to impact their behavior, frog has partnered with MTV for its new show “I Used To Be Fat,” a docu-series that chronicles several teens’ quests to lose weight the summer before they enter college.
In an effort to engage viewers more deeply in the show, frog has developed Tempt’d, a new facebook and iPhone application to help users resist everyday temptations and take on a healthier lifestyle. The series integration with Tempt'd will center specifically on food temptations and lets viewers share their own struggles to be healthier. Tapping into social gaming, the app lets users compete with each other for “willpower” and “karma” points. Viewers can also use the app to keep up with the kids profiled in each episode, receive tips and encouragement from the “I Used to Be Fat” trainers, and reach out for support and feedback when they are being tempted by food.
Tempt’d is part of a growing segment of online communities focused on the scope of health and wellness, from weight loss to diabetes care, that are creating a space where users are empowered to share their experience with others seeking advice on how to transform their health and be more conscious about their behavior. These groups have swelled due to our hyper-connectivity (71% of facebook users use their mobile for access) and the deep desire for our own stories to be heard. As Jacqueline Novogratz of the Acumen Fund pointed out at TEDWomen last week, “…what we really yearn for as human beings is to be visible to each other.” Through the magic of our social networks our ideas, connections and creations are more visible than ever. These detailed connections within online communities (despite Malcolm Gladwell’s pouting) deepen quickly with each update, comment, and post revealing shared specialties and experiences-causing participants to actively engage with each other and form an eclectic support system.
Successful weight loss facebook fan pages like Hungry-girl offer healthy eating tips and engage members through questions to inspire healthier choices by encouraging fans to reevaluate their eating habits. Users trust Hungry-girl as a peer who isn’t a certified nutritionist but a “foodologist” meaning she is obsessed with food, an idea that resonates well with her community members. This authentic and passionate online persona creates a trusting relationship with her loyal community that keeps them actively engaged. Other sites keep users engaged through gaming, like I Move You, which challenges friends on facebook and Twitter to “random acts of micro fitness”, using incentives that motivate users in their online communities to take control of their behaviors offline. Both types of online communities give the individuals an important voice and stake in the social interactions, while providing inspiration for their members.
We’ve also seen this with unique initiatives like “It Gets Better,” a video campaign where users told their stories of adolescent struggle in response to a frightening rise in digital bullying resulting in teen suicide. What started as a solo project quickly blossomed and soon representatives from major companies, celebrities, and the “average Joe” were sharing their stories. Perhaps what was most ironic, was that instead of “waiting” to escape high school, the campaign demonstrated that teens can tap into their online community as a place of support to share their experiences with others as a way of tackling the social challenges of their daily life.
As the holiday season of festive temptation is upon us, these communities and new apps like Tempt’d come just in time for our New Year’s resolutions and our need to find as much support as possible in our endeavors to kick unhealthy habits for 2011. Get more info on "I Used To Be Fat" or watch the trailer of the show below.
As frog's Content and Community manager, Kristina Loring curates, writes, and edits the design mind platform. When she's not spreading frog's ideas across the Internet and the city, you can find her raving about digital activism, the power to humanize tech, and community-led innovation.