“Get Up Off Your Behind and Move”

March 10, 2009

by Carol Politi

That was the unlikely title of a recent NPR podcast about the benefits of small periods of exercise for both kids and adults. One of the segments discussed how incorporating exercise in the classroom (by having kids stand when they read or do jumping jacks while practicing math) was showing positive benefits – especially for those kids that have difficulty staying on task.

I think most parents are proponents of more movement – both during and outside school hours. However, many parents struggle getting kids to move while they are at home because the kids want to be connected to their friends via apps on their computers. I extended the Club Penguin timer last night because my son had discovered yesterday that he could “find” his friend – and by the time he actually found him there was no time left to play with him. Given that his friend was next door and the two of them must have run about 2 miles in the find process by physically going back and forth between each others computers, extending it was actually upside when it came to inspiring exercise. But when he gets the hang of this is he going to want to stay tethered to the computer for hours?

Does the cell phone inspire kids to get outside by allowing them to be connected while they are mobile? If we enable what many of us consider to be the “optional” apps on our kids phones – Facebook, Twitter, etc – will kids be more comfortable leaving their computer and heading out to skateboard or ride their bike?

As with most things, there is no black and white here. On the plus side, when these apps are a mobile extension of on-line applications many of the safety settings and monitoring tools we have in place will work.  However, much of the safety monitoring I do consists of watching my kid in the kitchen with his computer.  Taking the apps mobile certainly raises the bar a bit. How do you approach monitoring of social applications while your child is mobile? Do you restrict them, have a tool that monitors the applications, or just use your eyes in the kitchen?

The other part of the NPR segment was about the benefits of small periods of exercise at the workplace.  An untethered phone definitely makes this easier – we all might need to start pacing during calls!

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