Taking the kids and screen time debate to a whole new level, the internet went mad this week over the news that Fisher Price has launched a Smart Cycle, which lets youngsters pedal on a static bike while they play computer games.
The Smart Cycle, which was unveiled at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and retails for $150 Stateside, is designed to hold a tablet computer and enables kids use the pedals to control their progress in the games they play on screen.
According to the Huffington Post, there's no news of a UK release as yet. Which is probably just as well, because there's been quite a backlash from critics who question the value of an exercise bike for kids that actually just encourages them to spend more time glued to a screen.
'Get them outside on a real bike,' they cry, and I can see their point. Shouldn't we be encouraging kids to spend less time on screens, not giving them the perfect excuse to ramp up even more hours indoors under the guise of being more active?
And yet I can't quite see what all the fuss is about. As far as I understand it, this isn't just about plonking your kids on an exercise bike while they rot their brains with more digital down-time. It's about encouraging them to make healthier use of the time they already spend on screens. And that's surely no bad thing.
Would I buy a Smart Cycle for my kids? I doubt it. I definitely think they should be riding real bikes outside in the street or running around in the garden with friends rather than pedalling away in glorious isolation indoors. But for kids who get little to no opportunity to be active outside, I still reckon the Smart Cycle has to be better than the alternative; glued to screens with no chance to get active.
And if having a Smart Cycle in the house meant that my kids were likely to spend half an hour each day pedalling away that would otherwise be spent stretched out on the sofa, then maybe I could be persuaded. My older kids are reaching an age where 'Let's cycle to the park' is met with groans but if this got them up and moving more enthusiastically, I'd definitely see its value. I'd still make them cycle to the park, of course, but I think we should be encouraging anything that makes inactive kids more inclined to move.
The Smart Cycle also records how much time your child has spent exercising, as well as what they've learned whilst pedalling and playing, so presumably you could use it to set me fitness goals and keep track of your child's true activity level.
We'd love to hear your views on this.
Would you buy your child a Smart Cycle or are you firmly of the view that kids should be active in the real world, not the virtual one?
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