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White Papers

Mobile Applications for Behavior Change—The Future Is Now

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This ICF white paper addresses how healthier behaviors can be impacted by mobile apps and details some of the possibilities and challenges in developing, deploying, and maintaining apps that can change behaviors.

As of June 2012, there were 321.7 million cellular subscriber connections in the United States—more than one for every member of the population. More than 35 percent of U.S. households are wireless only, which means landline telephones are becoming a thing of the past. There has also been an explosion in the use of text messaging, with an estimated 184.3 billion text messages sent monthly, or more than 2 trillion text messages annually.

As mobile phone use grows, there is increasing interest in using mobile applications, or "apps," to impact behavior. Some behaviors are already impacted—most persons react immediately to the push notification emitted by their mobile phones when they receive a text or other message. Individuals and families have started to set up rules for less mobile phone use when in the company of others.