Health & Wellness Society & Culture

UGA’s New Media Institute to present “Personal Media, Public Good”

Athens, Ga. – Could a new mobile game, designed by University of Georgia students, be a key to fighting childhood obesity? UGA’s New Media Institute is exploring ways to build healthier communities with Facebook, Twitter, mobile media and gaming.

On Saturday, May 1, the NMI will host “Personal Media, Public Good” from 1-5:15 p.m. in Room 101 of the Miller Learning Center. Online registration at is encouraged, but walk-up registration will be accepted from 12:30-1 p.m.

The free, day-long event will showcase student projects and explore how personal media like Twitter, Facebook, gaming, and mobile media can be used for public good, primarily by encouraging fitness and health change. Dialog, discussion and debate also will be an important part of the day.

“Wouldn’t it be cool if we could use new media tools to make the world a better place?” said Scott Shamp, director of the NMI and telecommunications professor in the UGA Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. “We’re going to talk about what we have done and begin the discussion on what needs to be done next.”

The event will kick off with a 1 p.m. welcome by David Lee, UGA’s vice president of research.

Then students will demonstrate a Twitter project called “TweetFit.” TweetFit uses customizable time-released tweets to encourage people to raise their heart rates during their lunch breaks.

Next Facebook will take center stage as “MyFitness Live” is demonstrated. The project uses Facebook to deliver live video exercise classes.

Then students will show how a mobile phone can be used to help visitors exercise while they learn about a new town.”CityStep” uses mobile media to encourage tourists to walk by providing stories and songs about the environment.

In a game called “Tugg,” students will show how mobile heart monitoring technology is used to pit teams of children against each other in virtual games of tug-of-war. The only way to win the game is literally by raising the heart rate, thereby reducing the risk for and effects of childhood obesity.

Panel discussions after each session will address the following questions:Can microblogging make people exercise? Can social networking facilitate positive health choices? Can cell phones help you stay active? Is gaming the enemy or ally in the war against childhood obesity?

Patricia Thomas, UGA Knight Chair in Health and Medical Journalism, will lead a future directions roundtable at 4:15 p.m. discussing what has been learned about technology and health change, and brainstorming on innovative projects.

Casey O’Donnell, assistant professor of telecommunications at Grady, will then lead a session highlighting six student capstone projects using various new media technologies.

The event will conclude at 5:15 p.m. followed by a networking reception and 10-year anniversary celebration at Tasty World in downtown Athens. The New Media Institute was formed in April, 2000 with the goal of “generating ideas.”

“Personal Media, Public Good” is sponsored by the New Media Institute, the Knight Chair in Health and Medical Journalism, both located in UGA’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, and UGA’s Center for Health and Risk Communication.

Established in 1915, the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication offers undergraduate majors in advertising, broadcast news, magazines, newspapers, public relations, publication management and telecommunication arts. The college offers two graduate degrees, and is home to WNEG-TV, the New Media Institute, the Knight Chair in Health and Medical Journalism and the Peabody Awards, internationally recognized as one of the most prestigious prizes for excellence in electronic media. For more information, see or follow Grady on Twitter at