Mobiles go hand-in-hand with almost any activity for young people, but in particular they buzz and flash on a night out as young people take pictures, arrange to meet with friends and use social media. This dynamic presents a question: how can we use mobile phones to connect with young people at the time and place they are making choices about drinking?
Dr Megan Lim, Senior Research Fellow at The Burnet Institute has developed a mobile phone-based intervention designed to reduce alcohol consumption and associated risky behaviour in Victorian young people aged 16 to 29; particularly those who engage in risky binge drinking.
The innovation is called MIDY (Mobile Intervention for Drinking in Young people), and is based primarily around young people receiving tailored SMS messages while they are drinking alcohol. Following initial trials with 42 young people, Dr Lim made changes in response to young people’s feedback.
With funding from a VicHealth Innovation Grant and an additional $35,000 Community Grant from Gandel Foundation, Dr Lim will soon trial MIDY with 300 young Victorians to assess whether the intervention is able to change drinking behaviours and attitudes over 12 weeks of consistent use.
In arguably the world-first model, MIDY provides personalised feedback for young people while in the actual drinking setting and context.
In the future, Dr Lim aims to partner with schools and universities to encourage use of MIDY by students at risk of binge drinking and associated harmful behaviour.
MIDY could also play a vital role in preventing injury and risk during Schoolies Week, school formal evenings and public holidays and festivals.
Dr Lim hopes MIDY can result in attitude and behaviour change that saves lives.
“Through MIDY we hope to reduce drinking on big nights by just a couple of drinks,” she said. “Even this small reduction is associated with a halving of the odds of a serious accident or death for young Victorians.”