Kids these days are really tied to their tech—Pew Research Center data indicates that around 45% of teens say they’re “almost constantly” online, and even young kids are spending more time in front of screens. That continuous connection to tech and the internet can make it tough to get kids outside and engaged with the real world.
Luckily, though, it doesn’t have to be one or the other, —you can actually work with your kids’ tech devices instead of against them. Certain apps encourage kids to interact with the world around them, getting them up off the couch and into the outdoors.
Activity Apps for Kids
There are now a number of different apps geared toward getting children up and moving. Broadly speaking, adult fitness tech typically focuses on features like record keeping and reminders, while fitness tech designed for children is built around gamifying physical activity. Many of them turn exercise into live-action video games, rewarding kids with digital point systems while simultaneously making health and education fun.
Here are five popular apps to help motivate your kids to be active and get outside to play:
- Geocaching: Have your kids ever wanted to participate in a real-life treasure hunt? With the Geocaching app, they can! Just download the app and make a family outing of searching your neighborhood for caches. Some might hold little knick-knacks or toys for the taking, while others might have a register the kids can sign to prove their status as expert treasure-hunters.
- Run Jump Play (and ROXs): This is an interesting app that pairs with small button-like devices called ROXs. The paired hardware pieces are relatively modest, consisting of little devices that are either worn or placed in the environment. The app registers the little devices, unlocking a whole world of fun and active games that get even younger kids running and jumping.
- Zombies Run: This game will probably appeal more toward older kids (and even parents) due to the slightly more intense themes. The premise is simple: your teen installs the app and listens to the missions transmitted while they walk, jog, or run. While they’re out, the app will play music and other sounds that will let you know when you’re “safe” or being chased by zombies. The app will also give you additional missions that include getting supplies, rescuing digital people from zombie attacks, and much more!
- Pokémon Go: This app got quite a bit of attention when it first came out, and for good reason—it blends a lot of traditional video game elements (and beloved characters) with real-world interaction. The user has to walk around to find new little creatures to capture, hatch eggs, and more. Just make sure your kids are staying safe and aware of their surroundings as they play.
- Star Walk 2: Whether you have a budding young astronomer in your family or not, this app is a great way to educate your kids about the sky—and get them outside in the process. Just point a mobile device at a portion of the sky, and the app will synthesize the input to display information about the stars and planets in that area.
Remember to Have Fun
Whether you’re young or old, being healthy comes from adopting healthy habits over the course of a lifetime. Yes, mobile technology does have some pitfalls, but when used properly, it can also help both you and your children to adopt new habits by making them more fun and convenient.
Try out different systems and apps with your children, and find some that are fun and easy enough for both of you to keep up with. And who knows—maybe they’ll end up helping you develop some new outdoorsy habits too!
Photo courtesy of Tim Gouw