4 ways to use technology to help kids be active

Everyone knows that being physically active is great for kids and helps them be healthy and happy. But many of us worry that technology use is reducing the physical activity of our children.

Playgroup WA has been working with ABC Kids, Raising Children Network and Curtin University on a project funded by the Australian Research Council and lead by Australian Catholic University, called “Young Children in Digital Society”.

The aim of the project is finding ways parents can use technology to support their child being physical activity (rather than reduce their activity).

Playgroup WA families tried out different ideas and with the research team identified the following 4 ways that you can use technology to support your child being physically active:

  1. Reinforcing: video record your child doing something active using your phone/tablet then
  • Play it back to your child to provide positive feedback and sometimes help with skill development.
  • Share the video with someone significant in your child’s life (e.g. remote working parent, grandparent) who can provide social support to reinforce your child’s enthusiasm and that physical activity was valued.
  1. Engaging: use technology to support your child’s physical activity either by
  • Playing video or audio of dancing/moving that your child joins in with or
  • Using smart phone functions such as maps navigation to support a walk in the park or a timer to have fun seeing how fast your child can do some activity.
  1. Launching: use your child’s interest in technology/media to launch your child into active play. For example, after watching a Bluey episode together you can prompt your child to turn off the screen and play ‘keepy uppy’.
  2. Planning: use the internet to research ideas for physical activity, such as fun activities for a rainy day or finding opportunities in everyday life to be more active, for example walking to pick up sibling from school.

The families involved in the study valued finding these practical ways to use digital technology to help their children be physically active, and the researchers hope these ideas will be helpful for other parents too.