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Games and gadgets are easy targets for explaining the rise of child obesity, and yes, inactivity is a weighty force behind poor health. However, not all gizmos are inherently bad. In fact, some of them could be part of the solution, rather than a problem!
That said, it takes more than shiny. Software has to step up, get them excited and show them results.
Setting aside Nintendo Wiis and Microsoft’s Kinect – fun but pricey – and looking at smart tech, there’s the Pebble smartwatch, a $150 customisable e-watch which connects to your handset via Bluetooth, currently available to pre-order and due for release this month (January 2013). The accompanying apps will then turn your smartphone into a bike computer, a runner’s log or even a golf rangefinder. Popular fitness tracker apps can easily be used by teens and older children, such as MapMyRide for cyclists and Nike+ for runners.
When it comes to healthy eating, smartphone users are spoiled for choice. Go Go Mongo! is a great way to teach kids what’s good and bad – when Mongo eats vegetables, he’s happy; when he gorges on doughnuts, he’s extremely sad. Simple. It’s less punitive and negative than calorie counting apps, and based on eating a good balanced diet. Munch 5-a-Day is a lovely, colourful app to encourage children to eat their five portions of fruit and veg a day. And older children will love JFD (Junk Food Destroyer) – splatting chips and burgers with your grape gun.
Simply by making healthy living fun – and not a chore – can be enough to help children stay on the right track, and if a child enjoys apps and games, let’s meet them halfway.
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YES. Motion tracking and interactive games can incentivize fitness and play.