Sensing everyday activity: Parent perceptions and feasibility
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Mobile and wearable sensors provide a unique opportunity to capture the daily activities and interactions that shape developmental trajectories, with potential to revolutionize the study of development (de Barbaro, 2019). However, developmental research employing sensors is still in its infancy, and parents’ comfort using these devices is uncertain. This report assesses parent willingness to participate in sensor studies via a nationally representative survey (N=210) and live recruitment of a low-income, minority population for an ongoing study (N=359). The survey allows us to assess how protocol design influences acceptability, including various options for devices and datastream resolution, conditions of data sharing, and feedback. By contrast, our recruitment data provides insight into parents’ true willingness to participate in a sensor study, with a protocol including 72hrs of continuous audio, motion, and physiological data. Our results indicate that parents are relatively conservative when considering participation in sensing studies. However, nearly 41% of surveyed parents report that they would be at least somewhat willing to participate in studies with audio or video recordings, 26% were willing or extremely willing, and 14% reported being extremely willing. These results roughly paralleled our recruitment results, where 58% of parents indicated interest, 29% of parents scheduled to participate, and 10% ultimately participated. Additionally, 70% of caregivers stated their reason for not participating in the study was due to barriers unrelated to sensing while about 25% noted barriers due to either privacy concerns or the physical sensors themselves. Parents’ willingness to collect sensitive datastreams increases if data stay within the household for individual use only, are shared anonymously with researchers, or if parents receive feedback from devices. Overall, our findings suggest that given the correct circumstances, mobile sensors are a feasible and promising tool for characterizing children’s daily interactions and their role in development.
Supplemental materials available: https://osf.io/whc79/