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Open AccessArticle

Effects of a Physical Activity Program Potentiated with ICTs on the Formation and Dissolution of Friendship Networks of Children in a Middle-Income Country

1
Department of Industrial Engineering, Universidad de Los Andes, Bogotá 111711, Colombia
2
Social and Health Complexity Center, Universidad de Los Andes, Bogotá 111711, Colombia
3
Department of Computer Science, University of Exeter, Exeter EX4 4PY, UK
4
Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research Group, Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute, Ottawa, ON K1H 8L1, Canada
5
School of Medicine, Universidad de los Andes, Bogotá 111711, Colombia
6
Facultad de Ingeniería, Universidad de Ibagué, Carrera 22 Calle 67, Ibagué 730001, Colombia
7
INRIA, Institut du Cerveau et de la Moelle épinière, ICM, Inserm U 1127, CNRS UMR 7225, Sorbonne Université, 75013 Paris, France
8
Centre for Public Health, School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences, Queen’s University Belfast, Belfast BT7 1NN, UK
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(16), 5796; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17165796
Received: 16 June 2020 / Revised: 7 July 2020 / Accepted: 20 July 2020 / Published: 11 August 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Interventions to Enhance Physical Activity and Nutrition in Children)
This paper assesses the potential cohesion effect of a physical activity (PA) school-based intervention potentiated using text messages (SMS) through analyzing longitudinally the friendship network structure and the mechanisms of the formation and dissolution of friendships. Three schools (n = 125 participants) in Bogotá, Colombia, were randomly assigned into three groups: Modulo Activo Recreo Activo (MARA) + SMS (networks 1 and 2), MARA (networks 3 and 4), and control (no intervention: networks 5–7). We collected socio-economic, health-related, network structure, and intervention satisfaction variables in the baseline and after 10 weeks on July–November 2013. For each classroom network, we conducted four models using a temporal and static network approach to assess (1) temporal social network changes, (2) friendship homophily, (3) friendship formation and dissolution mechanisms, and (4) effect of SMS on the networks’ cohesion. We found that (1) social cohesion emerged in the four intervened networks that were measured over time with transitivity and homophily driven by clustering, (2) the intervention affected the mechanisms of friendship formation and dissolution, and (3) MARA + SMS on average created more social cohesion and 3.8 more friendships than the program alone. Potentially, school-based interventions with information and communication technologies (ICT) such as MARA + SMS could encourage social cohesion among children. The particular characteristics of each school network need to be considered when developing school-based interventions. View Full-Text
Keywords: physical activity; technology; QAP logistic regression; STERGM; friendship ties; social network analysis; eHealth; mobile phone interventions physical activity; technology; QAP logistic regression; STERGM; friendship ties; social network analysis; eHealth; mobile phone interventions
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Guerra, A.M.; Montes, F.; Useche, A.F.; Jaramillo, A.M.; González, S.A.; Meisel, J.D.; Obando, C.; Cardozo, V.; Hunter, R.F.; Sarmiento, O.L. Effects of a Physical Activity Program Potentiated with ICTs on the Formation and Dissolution of Friendship Networks of Children in a Middle-Income Country. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17, 5796.

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