Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 28, Issue 2, pp 315–324 | Cite as

Measuring Daily Activity of Emerging Adults: Text Messaging for Assessing Risk Behavior

  • Lucía E. CárdenasEmail author
  • Elizabeth A. Stormshak
Original Paper


We evaluated the validity of the use of an SMS text messaging survey for measuring daily life activity in a sample of emerging adults. Short Message Service (SMS) text messaging is a prevalent form of everyday communication in the lives of emerging adults, yet there is limited research on the use of automated text messaging as a data collection method in clinical research. Study participants were 274 ethnically diverse emerging adults (54.4% female, baseline age = 17–21 years), and constructs included alcohol use, substance use, school activity, peer interaction, mood, and interaction with parents. Participants responded to “bursts” that included multiple surveys during the course of 2 weeks, 6 months apart (a total of 13 texting surveys). Most of the questions were strongly associated across bursts. Findings revealed response stability for participating subjects across the 6 months and across the texting and self-report survey methodologies. Paired sample t-tests indicated that participants reported differently across data methodologies, which suggests that some data collection methodologies are best suited for certain types of constructs, such as alcohol consumption. Study results encapsulate the daily life of emerging adults and highlight the importance of evaluating the validity of SMS text messaging as a potential data collection device in future research.


Technology Methodology Risk-taking Measurement Prevention 


Author Contributions

L.C.: Designed the study using extant data, ran the data analyses, analyzed the data, wrote the paper. E.S.: Originally collected extant data, collaborated in designing the study and in writing and editing the final manuscript.


This research was supported by grants from NICHD (HD075150) and NIDA (DA018374). This work was also funded by a minority supplement grant from NIDA (HD3R01DA037628).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee of the University of Oregon and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.Conflict of interest


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Counseling Psychology and Human ServicesUniversity of OregonEugeneUSA

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