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Can technology get kids to play outdoors?

4 years ago

7 experts and 5 parents have answered

expert answer
Andrew Weekes expert
Andrew Weekes Techy engineer, father of two. Sevenoaks, GB
Technology expert

We love geocaching, but I have found my kids have got wise to the fact it's partly an excuse to get them out walking :) The novelty has worn off for them, but I have another plan.

Google have released a game called Ingress that is a geolocation based game which involves you playing on the side of the resistance or the enlightenment and involves hacking, controlling and linking portals that are usually placed near interesting landmarks.

The app looks like the sort of high tec you see in a Hollywood movie, although it's still invite only at present. The other issue is the scarcity of portals outside of major cities, but should be fun on our next trip to London!

http://www.ingress.com

5 Reply ( 3 ) Share:
Experience 4 years ago
Josh Caine
Josh Caine Father of one Plainfield, US

My little guy is still too young for this, but with a small investment you might want to pick up a metal detector. Fun adventures combing a beach, or strolling through the woods hunting for 'treasure'!

3 Reply Share:
Opinion 4 years ago
Siobhan O'Neill writer
Siobhan O'Neill Freelance journo and mum of 2

You’re 11. You’ve just scored a new game for the DS that you’re determined to crack. It’s a beautiful day and your mum keeps giving you the ‘I wish you’d go outside and play’ look. But there’s no one to kick a football around and right now gaming is looking way more appealing.

If this sounds like your son or daughter and you’re desperate to interest them in some outdoors activity, you could try geocaching. It’s basically a treasure hunt with added tech – like your very own platform game – outdoors!

First get your reluctant offspring to visit Geocaching.com to see what it’s all about and sign up for a free basic membership. Put your postcode, state or province into the ‘Hide & Seek’ page and see where there are caches near you. There are millions worldwide. Choose one and put the co-ordinates into the GPS on your phone. Then use the phone to guide you on a walk to find the cache. You’ll find a small container with things inside. Sometimes you’re allowed to take what you find! But you must put something back in its place. Leave a note of your adventure in the logbook.

You can record your journey and post pictures under the cache description on the website when you get home, and see who else has found it. Then find harder ones. There are 12 different versions of the game with different caches to locate.

Don’t let sceptical youth put you off. Hunting for the caches is loads of fun and seriously addictive. If you take more than one child you could even ‘make it interesting’ with a ‘first to find’ prize. The GPS involvement should be just enough to pique their curiosity, but the fun is all about the outdoors and the joy of finding treasure.

2 Reply Share:
Opinion 4 years ago
expert answer
Andy Powell expert
Andy Powell Internet Consultant Oldham, GB

My kids love geocaching, but while the apps for android and iphone are great and easy to use we found it more fun using a standalone gps like this. Its rugged and waterproof so once its clipped on even the youngest child can lead the way through the undergrowth.

1 Reply ( 1 ) Share:
Opinion 4 years ago
Maya Middlemiss
Maya Middlemiss

Yeah +1 for geocaching, ours enjoy the iPad app

1 Reply Share:
Experience 4 years ago
Simon Munk writer
Simon Munk Consumer tech journalist, mountain biker, dad of two. Walthamstow

Saw this a while back - http://www.missionexplore.net/challenger/missionexplore - kids challenges in nearby green spaces, which earn them points on the site etc. - have yet to use it, as we currently have no trouble getting our kids outdoors.

Which brings me to the second idea - simply throw 'em out into the outdoors and help them enjoy it! Simple tech like bicycles, compasses, and good waterproof clothing is enough to get most kids loving the outdoors. I'd be less inclined to use tech as some kind of carrot with the outdoors being the stick, and instead consider making going outdoors the carrot. Let kids set the pace and the agenda - but forests, woods, mountains, streams etc. have a wealth of possibilities - from bug hunts to physics and logic lessons, tree climbing to hide and seek etc.

I'd also point out organisations like The Woodcraft Folk are really good for giving your children regular outdoors experience - familiarity for you and them is more important than scoring some points in an iPad app.

1 Reply ( 1 ) Share:
Opinion 4 years ago
expert answer
Lorraine Allman expert
Lorraine Allman Author, Businesswoman, Mum GB
Careers expert

Would just like to endorse the comments already made about Geocaching - it's great for children of all ages and teaches them the importance of working together to decipher clues and follow co-ordinates.

Depending on where the cache is located, you can play the game on foot, by car, or on their bikes. My six year old loves it as do some teens that we know well, and it's great fun logging the caches they've discovered.

1 Reply Share:
Experience 4 years ago
expert answer
Adam Clark expert
Adam Clark Father of 5, Technology Expert San Luis Obispo, US
Technology expert

My 7 yr old loves golf. We use apps while we golf to track our shots, check distances, etc. Technology can enhance the outdoor experience. Also, we love the star gazing apps on tablets. Sometimes the technology can drive the behavior outside - if it's interesting enough. For instance...show them the star gazing app and promise some time with them outside when it's dark and your young ones will think it's awesome! At least mine do.

1 Reply Share:
Experience 4 years ago
expert answer
Roberto Catanuto expert
Roberto Catanuto Teacher, Club Instructor CH
Education expert

The Mindstorms set allows Datalogging, that doesn't even need too much stuff to be done: just the Lego brick and one sensor.

There're already are many helpful resources about it and can be useful to collect data of the environment: light, sound, pressure, temperature, pH etc...

1 Reply Share:
Fact 4 years ago
Cory Peppler
Cory Peppler Teacher, Tech Geek, Dad, Writer Milwaukee, Wisconsin

This past weekend, the weather finally allowed me to put our new kayak into the lake at our new house. I was giddy, as I'd been waiting for such a long time to do this. My 8-year-old came down to the dock to see me off on the maiden voyage. I asked him if he'd like to come out with me. Looking at the kayak, he immediately replied:

"Does it have outlets?"

And, thus, the pure joy of that first spring paddle on a beautiful spring evening was crushed in a single statement... <sigh>

Lot's of work ahead, I guess. Thanks to all for the great ideas already contributed!

1 Reply ( 1 ) Share:
Experience 4 years ago
expert answer
Jill Hodges expert
Jill Hodges Founder of Fire Tech Camp London, GB
Education expert

I'd love to try this, would love to find a London or SW London group!!

0 Reply Share:
Opinion 4 years ago
expert answer
Maria  Sibireva expert
Maria Sibireva Senior lecturer Saint Petersburg, Russia
Child development expert

To answer this question I would like to share some results of my study. One of the most popular fears between children who are 4 - 8 years old is the fear of to be lost (54 %).

So, before speaking about how technology can get children play outside, we must remember that if children feel fear, they will not play normally outside.

And technology can help to overcome this fear. First of all, we must research the opinions of children, their fears and problems with which they face in urban environment (it is especially actual for big cities). And we must put the results of these researches in the base of the development of apps, technologies and so on. For example, according to the results of my study, I concluded that we definitely need some kind of child's navigator. This navigator will be able to help children to guide in the environment, to overcome the fear of to be lost.

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Opinion 3 years ago

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