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Could an App Help Kids Become More Active and Reduce Screen Time?

cell phone

One feature that is getting a lot of attention in iOS 12 is Screen Time.  Screen Time is a way to monitor app usage and set limits in order to reduce the amount of time you are spending on your iPhone.  You can use it for yourself to monitor how much time you’re spending on social media.  But this is also a great tool for parents if they want to limit the amount of time their child spends using popular apps – like YouTube or games.  That said, there is one company that is taking this to the next level by requiring kids to “earn” screen time after they exercise.  Is this a good idea? I mean, in some cases, it couldn’t hurt.

The goal, of course, is to get children off their mobile devices and to get moving. The app is called Goya-Move and it allows parents to set a daily or hourly step goal for the child.  The parent can also block specific apps that will be timed out until the desired step goal is reached by the child.  Presumably, the child needs to have their device on them, in order for it to track their fitness levels.  But other than that, it’s a pretty interesting idea.  And maybe something that adults could employ as well.

I work out pretty hard most days, but there is a rare Saturday when I barely move from the couch or my bed.  Most of my day is spent watching movies, but a fair bit of it is also spent on my phone.  Perhaps this is a way for me to limit my time on Instagram?  I am a person who responds to incentives.  If you tell me that I can eat pizza every Friday night, if I get five workouts in that week, I will do it.  There will be times that I will say that this week isn’t worth the pizza, but I think you get the idea.

The bigger question is whether this will work on children?  For a particular age category, I think the answer is yes.  When kids are younger, they are more likely to listen to their parents.  Sure, there are times when a kid is moody, but when I look at my nephew who is three, I can see him starting to understand that he’s only allowed screen time after his bath, for example.  He will get to an age where his parents aren’t monitoring his screen time, so this could certainly help to keep him active.

teenagers using cell phones

This app doesn’t necessarily tackle the issue of screen time in general.  Let’s say you’ve installed this on your teenager’s phone.  Presumably, you don’t want them running around the block at 11 pm at night, just so they can use their phone?  My guess is there will be a lot of distress in the home if you don’t allow them to use their phone.  Where am I going with this?  This app is likely only going to work for a specific age range.  Before and after that, you will have to figure out how to keep your child active, and how much screen time they should get.

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