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12/31/13

Outside Chance: The right toy could be the catalyst to getting children activity they need

A constant struggle parents face on a daily basis is determining just how much time kids should be spending playing video games or squandering time on their smart phone in comparison actual physical activity.
The rise of technology in the form of tablets, phones and sophisticated gaming system has resulted in kids spending less time outside playing and more time glued to a device that leads to attention disorders, fatigue, general malaise and overweight children.
This dilemma for moms and dads leads two one of two routes: ignore the issue and chalk it up to this generation or attempt to implement games, products and toys that promote activity but also aren't incredibly bland or boring.
For example, if you want your kids to get more exercise or increase their activity level, swapping a smart phone for sit ups isn't going to cut it, so don't buy a child or teenager a gym membership. That's money wasted and a way too grandiose gesture, when what you really want to do is buy toys and games that subtly suggest its time to get off the couch.
So what toys managed to promote activity the most?

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The most obvious choice would be something like a Nintendo Wii, which not only recreates some classic video games like Madden NFL Football or Super Mario Kart but also infuses a more proactive approach to gaming in the form of sports games or ones that center on dancing or exercise. Playing a few tennis matches or engaging in a mock bowling tournament isn't exactly a 5K run but it's a tremendous compromise.
Equally attractive and simple is the iconic basketball hoop attached to the back of a door. Those at NERF nailed the perfect blend of technology and basketball horseplay with the NERF Cyber Hoop. This adds a new dimension to an old classic by allowing you to still shoot hoops in addition to transforming that tablet or phone of yours into a virtual scoreboard.
In a similar vein is the timeless art of riding a bicycle. Kids love it, but perhaps adding a twist to this would allow your children to enjoy it that much more. Those behind ChalkTrail can chalk up their success to adding chalk to any bicycle and letting kids ride and create artwork simultaneously. Who knows, ChalkTrail could eventually replace the myriad of drawing or sketching apps on your smart phone and increase activity level as well.
Today's kids have a penchant for picking up devices or electronics and just have an innate idea of exactly what to do without being taught. Thus, attempting to eliminate it all together isn't practical or possible. Instead, technology proves potent when paired with the perfect toy and the result is happier, and more importantly, healthier kids.

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