Physical activity for kids is extremely important to overall health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest children (and adults) get at least 60 minutes of exercise each day; but this is easier said than done. The problem is that kids today are not the same as kids were 20 or 30 years ago.
Times Have Changed
Older generations of children spent most of their time outside playing, while kids today, no matter how old they are, have access to smart phones, tablets, video games, computer games, and other electronics. Technology has a widely-known correlation with childhood obesity and this correlation is especially present in the US. Although this concern is not 100% off-base, technology is not completely to blame.
Yes, more than one-third of children are overweight in America and more than one-third play at least an hour of video games each day. Many don’t have as much social or physical activity as they should for mental and physical health development. With statistics like that, making the connection to technology and childhood obesity is not hard; but it’s not necessarily a cause-and-effect phenomenon.
Incorporating Technology Into Physical Activity
The fact of the matter is that kids are not doomed to be overweight because of our tech-crazy culture; physical activity for kids has simply changed. The problem doesn't necessarily lie in the technology or games themselves, but in the fact that many parents don’t know how to use their children’s love of technology to encourage physical activity for kids.
Good news! If your child is a “gamer” you can stop fighting with them to get off the couch and go outside. They can get the exercise and socialization they need and still do what they love. There are hundreds of games and apps out there that your young kids and teens will love; here are a few to get you started:
Trainer: Kids just love to take care of digital creatures and this app lets them do it while being active. Your child is responsible for the creature's diet and exercise; but they have to do more than click buttons, they have to exercise along with the pet to keep them healthy!
Motion Maze: This is an interactive treasure hunt where kids must walk, jog, or run in place to get the character through the maze as quickly as possible.
Kids Yoga Journey: Flexibility is important for your child and this app provides them with visual instruction on yoga positions for children. It even received high marks in the Healthy Apps Challenge run by the Surgeon General.
Zamzee: this little USB drive clips into your child’s shoe and keeps track of their activity. Your child will earn points for any and all movement; from climbing a tree to taking out the garbage and everything in between.
Zombies, Run! : This adventure app is for older kids that sends players on missions to get away from attacking zombies. The player routes a course they will run and the app comes up with a story line as they run from the undead and even incorporates the player’s favorite movie.
NFL Play 60: this football themed game gets kids out for an hour of running, turning, and jumping over obstacles with their character on the screen.
FitQuest: players jump, duck, jog, and walk in place to help a baby squirrel get to its tree house.
Move Like Me: Young players copy movement patterns from their character; after each character, another one is added and the player must remember the sequence.
Easter Egg & Spoon Race: players grab their virtual egg and spoon and can challenge a friend to a race or play alone. Players create their own course and run around it; it’s a race against the clock- but don’t drop too many eggs!
As technology evolves, games and apps will only become more a part of our culture; parents just need to learn how they can incorporate technology into physical activity for kids and for themselves! Visit the App store, Google Play, or just do quick search online and you’ll find the perfect entertainment (and exercise) for your kids.
Related Article: Is Technology Harming My Teen's Mental and Physical Health?