Spark is looking at fitness tech for kids - and we want your help
By Nora Young
This past week, Fitbit, makers of the popular fitness-tracking wristbands, announced the launch of the Fitbit Ace. It's designed specifically for children eight and older, and has a number of kid-oriented features.
For example, it's designed to be used with a family account that provides parental controls for privacy. What the kids see can be customized (such as hiding stats), and it also eliminates the display of calories burned. Parents can monitor their kids' sleep and activity patterns.
It's hard to argue with kids getting more exercise, and Fitbit isn't the only company to design a tracker for kids. I wear a Fitbit myself, so I've seen how they can be a fun way to encourage physical activity.
But it did raise a few questions for me. Today's youngsters are the first generation to be born into a "quantified self" world, where achievements are gamified, stats are constantly updated, and those stats can be monitored. It's not just fitness trackers; there are all kinds of data-based parenting tools out there.
On one hand, isn't it just a way to use what naturally motivates us - games and feedback? On the other, is it potentially a recipe for obsessive self-tracking, and a lack of intrinsic motivation?
HELP US OUT
We're working on a story on fitness trackers for kids, and the broader topic of data-driven parenting, and I'd love to know your thoughts. Is there a kid in your life who's already using a fitness tracker? What do they like about it?
What's the right age to start using some of these tracking tools, and what's lost and gained in tracking and rewarding behaviours?