Background: Wearable devices permit the continuous, unobtrusive collection of data from children in their natural environments and can transform our understanding of child development. Although the use of wearable devices has begun to emerge in research involving children, few studies have considered families’ experiences and perspectives of participating in research of this kind. Objective: Through a mixed methods approach, we assessed parents’ and children’s experiences of using a new wearable device in the home environment. The wearable device was designed specifically for use with infants and young children, and it integrates audio, electrocardiogram, and motion sensors. Methods: In study 1, semistructured phone interviews were conducted with 42 parents of children aged 1 month to 9.5 years who completed 2 day-long recordings using the device, which the children wore on a specially designed shirt. In study 2, a total of 110 parents of children aged 2 months to 5.5 years responded to a questionnaire assessing their experience of completing 3 day-long device recordings in the home. Guided by the Digital Health Checklist, we assessed parental responses from both studies in relation to the following three key domains: (1) access and usability, (2) privacy, and (3) risks and benefits. Results: In study 1, most parents viewed the device as easy to use and safe and remote visits as convenient. Parents’ views on privacy related to the audio recordings were more varied. The use of machine learning algorithms (vs human annotators) in the analysis of the audio data, the ability to stop recordings at any time, and the view that the recordings reflected ordinary family life were some reasons cited by parents who expressed minimal, if any, privacy concerns. Varied risks and benefits were also reported, including perceived child comfort or discomfort, the need to adjust routines to accommodate the study, the understanding gained from the study procedures, and the parent’s and child’s enjoyment of study participation. In study 2, parents’ ratings on 5 close-ended items yielded a similar pattern of findings. Compared with a “neutral” rating, parents were significantly more likely to agree that (1) device instructions were helpful and clear (t 109=−45.98; P<.001), (2) they felt comfortable putting the device on their child (t 109=−22.22; P<.001), and (3) they felt their child was safe while wearing the device (t 109=−34.48; P<.001). They were also less likely to worry about the audio recordings gathered by the device (t 108=6.14; P<.001), whereas parents’ rating of the burden of the study procedures did not differ significantly from a “neutral” rating (t 109=−0.16; P=.87). Conclusions: On the basis of parents’ feedback, several concrete changes can be implemented to improve this new wearable platform and, ultimately, parents’ and children’s experiences of using child wearable devices in the home setting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere49316
JournalJMIR Human Factors
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2024


  • wearable devices
  • multimodal sensing
  • user experience
  • usability
  • privacy
  • children
  • mobile phone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Health Informatics


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