You’ve heard it hundreds of times: eat right and exercise to get healthier. So, for yourself and your family, you have cut sugary drinks and treats, and have attempted the sneaky feat of getting your kids to get more fruits and vegetables. However, it’s harder to get them up and moving away from the computer, television, and game consoles. “Go outside!” doesn’t have the same allure of years past for little ones. What can you do?
For many, the first logical step is to take away the gadgets and toys. However, there is an alternative. Instead of fighting against the gadgetry, try finding technology that encourages children to get up and running around. We have gathered five of the top gadgets and toys that will encourage play and activity in the best ways. Many of these are whole-family products!
- Pedometers: Far from the basic ‘black box’ that just clips to your belt, modern pedometers track steps, calories, and can even sync up with your kids’ favorite games! Nintendo, the creators of Pokemon, released the Pokewalker, which syncs up with a copy of the Pokemon game and allows you to raise and play with one of your Pokemon. There are also many smart pedometers, like Striiv, that include games and an interactive component to walking. You can also get the FitBit or Nike+ running application, that tracks your children’s movement via a small pedometer and a smart phone application.
- GPS Games: Many games out there track your child’s movement in terms of a game. Several apps out there allow you to run from zombies, chase animals, or finish a mission. With GPS trackers, they sync only to your cell phone and you typically have to give permission for it to do anything else, in case of privacy concerns. Zombie, Run! is a very popular GPS app, though there are several others out there that guide you, tell you when to pick up the pace, or help your kids find hidden ‘treasures’ and geocaches on the cell phone or iPod.
- GeoPalz: Slightly different than the typical pedometer game, GeoPalz is directed specifically at children. GeoPalz pedometers are sold online and you register them for your children. Once registered, you and your child can track their steps, which then translate into virtual movement across the GeoPalz world. With each mile walked, your children earn points toward gift cards to stores, surprises, and iTunes gift cards. Children are rewarded for any movement, and strongly encouraged to keep playing. This does have some downsides, as it is possible for children to cheat the system if parents are not careful. However, by utilizing the parent section of this website, and by being active with your children, you can minimize the risk and reap the rewards of this gadget.
- LeapBand: Another pedometer pet with a twist, the LeapBand encourages active play, not just walking. It is a bracelet-style gadget for kids that comes with a set of eight pets that they can choose from. Once the pet is chosen, kids have to keep moving and playing to take care of their pet; it thrives best during active, vigorous play. There are currently 14 challenges that come pre-loaded in the LeapBand. Kids also have to feed their pets healthy snacks to unlock rewards and nutrition facts. This toy is due out in August 2014, but is already well anticipated as a great gadget to get children up and moving in our increasingly screen-based world.
- S2H Replay: The S2H Replay is your kids’ wrist-bound workout buddy! It encourages movement by offering rewards for at least sixty minutes of activity; the rewards are sixty pounds toward a gift card. It also reacts to your movement, filling bars and offering smiley faces for success. This is great for adults and children, encouraging families to get out and moving together. You can only redeem one code per day, but it’s quite easy to get the codes stored up.
When it comes to getting children up and moving, it can be an uphill battle. However, there are quite a few gadgets that will encourage your children to move and play. From pedometers to wrist pets, you can utilize technology to get your entire family moving and healthy.