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Yay or Nay: Child Fitness Monitors

2

Replies

  • janejellyroll
    janejellyroll Posts: 25,878 Member
    I appreciate all the feedback and it sounds like for the most part, people support the idea so long as a stigma isn't applied by someone else. The only thing that keeps me from getting one for my kiddo, other than the price, is his amazing ability to lose everything! I can get him a $2 watch, or a $20 watch, he will lose both - within a matter of days!


    Some are GPS enabled.

    Does the GPS allow you to locate a lost watch? I thought it was just to track running routes and the like.
  • 777Gemma888
    777Gemma888 Posts: 9,580 Member
    I appreciate all the feedback and it sounds like for the most part, people support the idea so long as a stigma isn't applied by someone else. The only thing that keeps me from getting one for my kiddo, other than the price, is his amazing ability to lose everything! I can get him a $2 watch, or a $20 watch, he will lose both - within a matter of days!


    Some are GPS enabled.

    Does the GPS allow you to locate a lost watch? I thought it was just to track running routes and the like.

    Essentially, if the gadget is inside your home, you'd literally get a ping that it's there (general highlighted ping). You'd have better luck if your child loses it in a playground.

    There are Apps you could install on your device, connected to your child's one. It's within the realms of the " find my phone, keys, device" technology. You can even set the device alarm off, so as to locate it with some Apps.
  • Knokr
    Knokr Posts: 13 Member
    Honestly for young girls I can see this lead to an eating disorder so I’d say if your child is a healthy weight, eating well, and active - I’m against it. But if your child isn’t as healthy then I could see how it may be beneficial.
  • ladyhusker39
    ladyhusker39 Posts: 1,408 Member
    It's just a data collection device. How one chooses to use or interpret the data is where the human factor comes in.
  • WJS_jeepster
    WJS_jeepster Posts: 224 Member
    edited June 2018
    My 8 year old twins got Vivofit Jrs for Christmas last year after asking for them for quite a while. Most of the kids in their 2nd grade class had Apple watches, but I said no way to that.

    They mostly use it to compare how many steps they got to me, and they often beat me since I have a sedentary job and they are running around all day. There is also an activity minutes target feature, and they do like to close that circle. If they haven't one or both will usually join me on our evening dog walk which is nice.

    You can also set it up to get points for doing tasks/chores and then you can set up rewards of your own choosing for earning a certain number of points. I started out doing that but it turned out that it was too much piddly tracking for the return I was getting.

    They really only care about the steps and the activity minutes, and that's all we use it for.

    ETA: I'll probably jinx myself but they haven't lost them yet. My son has managed to lose something each day so far of their summer day camp (9 days and we are on our THIRD water bottle) but the tracker hasn't been lost yet.
  • amusedmonkey
    amusedmonkey Posts: 10,331 Member
    When I think back to myself as a child, I would have loved something like this. I can imagine myself feeling ecstatic that I got a new gadget. I can also vividly imagine being happy with the color. I would have loved competing with my family and friends for steps. For child me, it would have been the perfect gift, but I'm not every child. You would need to be careful with some of them, so the answer is it depends on the child.
  • hesn92
    hesn92 Posts: 5,884 Member
    I don’t see what the harm could be. It would only encourage more activity in my opinion. For most people anyway. I could see me and my son having competitions.
  • amusedmonkey
    amusedmonkey Posts: 10,331 Member
    hesn92 wrote: »
    I don’t see what the harm could be. It would only encourage more activity in my opinion. For most people anyway. I could see me and my son having competitions.

    The issue is not with the tracker, but with the brand name. If a child is impressionable and already has issues, I can see how wearing something associated with adults who wear them to control their weight may contribute to the issue.
  • jjpptt2
    jjpptt2 Posts: 5,547 Member
    Both of my kids have trackers (ages 16 and 13)... an following the general trend of this thread... I don't think trackers *cause* problems. Can they exacerbate an existing problem? Sure. But the problem likely exists or doesn't regardless of whether or not they have a tracker.
  • lemongirlbc
    lemongirlbc Posts: 412 Member
    My kids have them (ages 6 and 9) and absolutely love them. They just know they count their steps, and that "more active minutes" is a good thing, so they compete to get the most steps and have the most active minutes. The way I see it, it's encouraging movement and a healthy lifestyle - in no way do they feel pressured or like they need to lose wight (SO not a factor) or like they aren't good enough or fit enough or anything - they just know movement is good and is encouraged.
  • gradchica27
    gradchica27 Posts: 776 Member
    hesn92 wrote: »
    I don’t see what the harm could be. It would only encourage more activity in my opinion. For most people anyway. I could see me and my son having competitions.

    The issue is not with the tracker, but with the brand name. If a child is impressionable and already has issues, I can see how wearing something associated with adults who wear them to control their weight may contribute to the issue.

    Then perhaps it is up to the adults to talk about their wearable in a different light, related to fitness and not weight loss. After all, the biggest name brand is Fitbit, not “thinbit”.

    My boys see me wearing mine and being very active—tracking our bike ride or my run/lifting session. The other moms and dads of their friends who have them are almost to the person very active and fit. We talk latest lifting PR, what race we’re training for, etc, not calories or weight loss. I’m not sure they even realize that people use them for weight control...or even what that is (my oldest two are 8&6 and we talk about being strong & fast—they love American Ninja Warrior and were thrilled to “train” for their kids one in town). They don’t need to know I would be happy to lose a few lbs, so I don’t say it where they can hear it, and change the subject when another adult brings it up.
  • amusedmonkey
    amusedmonkey Posts: 10,331 Member
    hesn92 wrote: »
    I don’t see what the harm could be. It would only encourage more activity in my opinion. For most people anyway. I could see me and my son having competitions.

    The issue is not with the tracker, but with the brand name. If a child is impressionable and already has issues, I can see how wearing something associated with adults who wear them to control their weight may contribute to the issue.

    Then perhaps it is up to the adults to talk about their wearable in a different light, related to fitness and not weight loss. After all, the biggest name brand is Fitbit, not “thinbit”.

    My boys see me wearing mine and being very active—tracking our bike ride or my run/lifting session. The other moms and dads of their friends who have them are almost to the person very active and fit. We talk latest lifting PR, what race we’re training for, etc, not calories or weight loss. I’m not sure they even realize that people use them for weight control...or even what that is (my oldest two are 8&6 and we talk about being strong & fast—they love American Ninja Warrior and were thrilled to “train” for their kids one in town). They don’t need to know I would be happy to lose a few lbs, so I don’t say it where they can hear it, and change the subject when another adult brings it up.

    I completely agree. That's sadly not how most people act around these trackers or how they act around their kids when they are on a diet, but that's a whole new different topic.
  • Speckle38
    Speckle38 Posts: 53 Member
    My 10yo got one for his birthday. He is super active, easily tracking over 25K steps per day. He got bored with it very quickly because he won every family challenge.
  • Adc7225
    Adc7225 Posts: 1,319 Member
    As something to motivate or acknowledge body movements - I’m all for it. When I see young adults, riding electric scooters or electric bikes along with Uber type availability, I think teaching young ones the importantance of being active with a gadget is where we are headed.
  • shinycrazy
    shinycrazy Posts: 1,083 Member
    My 6 year old son has a garmin vivofit for kids. We use it to give rewards for chores/behavior and track his steps. My husband and I have each have one, so he likes being in the cool club. :) I'll take him wanting to do what I do for as long as lasts!! We don't worry about him making a "goal" or anything like that. He's 47 inches and 44lbs, with an enviable bmi(children's) of 14.
  • WJS_jeepster
    WJS_jeepster Posts: 224 Member
    My 8 year old twins got Vivofit Jrs for Christmas last year after asking for them for quite a while. Most of the kids in their 2nd grade class had Apple watches, but I said no way to that.

    They mostly use it to compare how many steps they got to me, and they often beat me since I have a sedentary job and they are running around all day. There is also an activity minutes target feature, and they do like to close that circle. If they haven't one or both will usually join me on our evening dog walk which is nice.

    You can also set it up to get points for doing tasks/chores and then you can set up rewards of your own choosing for earning a certain number of points. I started out doing that but it turned out that it was too much piddly tracking for the return I was getting.

    They really only care about the steps and the activity minutes, and that's all we use it for.

    ETA: I'll probably jinx myself but they haven't lost them yet. My son has managed to lose something each day so far of their summer day camp (9 days and we are on our THIRD water bottle) but the tracker hasn't been lost yet.

    HEY - guess what my son lost yesterday??? Hooray. He also lost his swim goggles which we have yet to find, and his lunchbox which we did find. All of a sudden both water bottles turned up in the lost and found. I told him I was going to start fining him $5 each day he loses something and he was unamused.
  • NorthCascades
    NorthCascades Posts: 10,774 Member
    I'd be curious to see the data it gathers. If you don't present it like "you're fat, your will help" then there shouldn't be a downside.
  • lolly2414
    lolly2414 Posts: 187 Member
    To the debate at hand, I think it greatly depends on the child and the motivation of the parent buying it.

    I agree. I have 3 young children who are all very active (and always take a 1.5 to 2.5 mile walk with me each evening). My oldest and youngest are very thin. My middle child is right on the edge of being considered overweight. She's short, thick, and very strong for a 7 year old girl (we always say she could play tackle football and destroy the boys her age or even a couple years older). I've thought about possibly monitoring her fitness levels or limiting unhealthy snacks (the kids get one unhealthy snack per day), but I don't think she'd like being monitored and the snack thing seems unfair for her age. My 10 year old son, however, would probably be fascinated with a step counter or other fitness monitor. So, even though he's thin and my daughter isn't as much, I'd be far more likely to buy something like this for my son. So I think it's okay if the child would enjoy it, but otherwise I feel it would be a waste of money. Now for teenagers I think it would be great (and hopefully would encourage exercise).
  • therealmichele
    therealmichele Posts: 31 Member
    unless there is a health issue requiring monitering, or if the kid is an elite athlete competing at a high level in a given sport, i'd hold off, or only allow it if the kid saved up and paid for it.

    this is partly b/c, as mentioned above, KIDS LOSE STUFF. all the time. it doesnt matter how expensive it was. and if they didnt actually pay for it themselves, the likelihood of losing something somehow magically triples.

    but also, as much as humans like to gamify data and compete in challenges etc, it's a bummer to me when kids feel a need to gamify their... actual games. childhood is supposed to be built on play that is truly free and untethered. run around b/c it's just fun to run around, not to get more steps than your office-bound dad. i feel like it shifts the locus of enjoyment from the self/body to the comparison to others' selves/bodies, and i'm not a fan of that in childhood. i mean, even adolescents and adults have trouble being healthy with that, you know?

    and finally: i'm a big, big advocate for self-regulation and understanding of one's own body and needs, and i think in childhood the best way to build that comprehension of self is to FEEL it. i think if you dont cultivate that first-person experience of your own body, you're more likely to operate at a sensory and cognitive deficit later when it comes to making healthy choices for that body as you age (what to eat, how much to eat, how hard to push yourself at the gym or on a run, how long to rest, how long to recover from an injury, how much you can safely carry on your back on a hike that's going to be largely slippery rock, etc-- all that requires an understanding of your own, personal needs and abilities, away from or at least more primarily than any algorithm prescription or the advice of strangers etc).

    there are tons of ways to live life well, and no single "correct" way to do it. some kids are going to have fitness monitors as soon as they can read numbers, and some of them will be just fine. but i wouldn't do it to my kid, and i wouldn't recommend it, either.