How To Keep Kids Active In A World Of Video Games

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By Sandra Goldstein

boyvideogameIt’s tough to match the appeal of today’s video games when it comes to keeping kids engaged. The action is fast paced, the challenges are thought provoking, and the sound and visual effects are unparalleled. But when children and teens spend the bulk of their time in front of the TV, computer, or hand-held devices – they develop an increased desire for immediate entertainment. This can cause a significant decrease in their attention span and ability to retain information elsewhere (school for instance). The concerned parent will often find themselves frustrated, and feeling helpless when it comes to encouraging a balance between video games, and physical fitness. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that children get at least sixty minutes of physical activity everyday. Finding creative ways to get your child out and active – can be the tricky stitch!

Why Not Start By Playing A Video Game With Your Child?

This will take away the defensive barrier between you and your child that so often prevents effective communication. When your son or daughter feels that have taken the time to relate to their interests, they will likely be more receptive to other ideas and suggestions you may have regarding extra curricular activities. Playing video games with your child from time to time, also helps you keep a keen eye on the types of games they are playing, without invasive to their privacy. That, and there’s nothing wrong with upping the ‘cool factor’ just a bit as a parent!

boyssportsPlan Engaging Indoor & Outdoor Activities For Your Child And Their Friends!

There are literally hundreds of things to do that will encourage your child to get outside and be physically active, without it feeling like a chore. We forget that in our communities, there are activities just as challenging and thrilling (more so in fact) as any video game on the market. Consider Go Karting, paintball, laser tag or wide game activities like capture the flag in your community parks. If you live in a community with accessible water activities like canoeing, knee boarding, scuba diving or parasailing, take nature up on its opportunity. Sometimes it’s not that our kids aren’t interested in living active lifestyles, it’s that they don’t actually realize all the cool things that an active lifestyle could entail!

Get Your Child On Board With An Organized Sport

According to the NYU Child Study Centre, organized sports help build physical, psychological, character, cognitive and academic development in children. Sports will help your child build muscle and bone while improving memory capabilities, the ability to focus and reduce any stress or anxiety your child may be experiencing. Organized sports also build self- esteem, assist with cognitive problem solving abilities, teach children the value of working together, build leadership skills and encourage kids to set and achieve personal goals. Getting your child involved with sports will also expose them to people from other cultures, which encourages empathy from an early age.

The benefits behind encouraging your child to be physical active and involved in his or her community are really boundless. The important thing, is to make sure your they know you are on their side, and want to get, be and stay engaged right along with them. So, while you’re encouraging your kids to be active, make sure you’re ‘walking the walk’!

– Article supplied Sandra Goldstein.

Duck, Duck, Goose: Tackle Childhood Obesity Early With Group Games

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By Jacqueline Horsfall

boygirlplayvectorThe preschool group was busily cleaning up blocks, paints, and plastic dinosaurs when I entered the classroom. A hand tugged at my sweater. “Who are you?” asked a curly-headed four-year-old. “I’m the Game Lady,” I said. “We’re going outside and run, jump, and make noise.” She flashed me a big grin. “Oh, yay!” She took my hand and dragged me toward the door leading to the playground area. “C’mon, everybody,” she called to her classmates. “Let’s play games.”

It doesn’t take threats or bribery to entice preschool children into physical exercise. But it does require dedicated adults—parents, teachers, babysitters, child care staff—to take an active role at home or school in leading structured games and high-energy activities instead of simply shooing kids outside, saying, “OK now, go find something to do.”

What? you say. Me lead a game? Don’t worry. The best games are the ones that are easy to learn quickly. Freeze Tag. Duck-Duck-Goose. Red Light Green Light. Dodge ball. London Bridge. The test of a winning game comes from young players themselves when they shout, “Let’s play it again!”

Here are a few pointers to help you get your game-on:

1. Be the Game Leader for one game. In subsequent play, any child may become the new Leader or all may take turns being the Leader. That leaves you free to supervise, referee, or become a player by joining the group.

2. Start with warm-ups and end with cool-downs. These bending and stretching exercises focus on joint flexibility, breath work, and coordination—essential to any good workout—but kids see them only as part of the game.

3. Don’t spend a lot of time explaining how the game is played—just play it. Kids catch on quickly once the Leader demonstrates the first time around. Rule #1 is: Rules are made to be broken. If a rule of play doesn’t work, get rid of it and substitute one of your own or ask the players for their suggestions.

4. Be creative. Dream up variations on old favorites. I’ve switched up Tag by incorporating a science lesson, wrapping a child in a gauzy-fabric “cocoon” and unfurling it, letting him/her fly away like a butterfly—with the group chasing after.

5. Keep competition low-key. From my own experience, very young children are more concerned with having a turn, rather than winning.

6. There is no set “play time.” Some games are so much fun, kids beg for repeated play. With a small preschool group, I’ve run three games consecutively to fill a 30-minute time slot. When players tire of one game, begin another.

7. Help children with weak motor skills, but keep it fun and part of the game. Scoop up a child and run to the finish line, nudge a ball in a child’s direction, guide little feet and hands, and give each a turn as Leader.

Bring your enthusiasm and creativity to high-energy group games and instill a love of physical activity in youngsters that will last a lifetime. Start early—with kids as young as 3—and help nip childhood obesity in the bud.

– Jacqueline Horsfall has over 15 years experience in youth-and-family nature programming. She is the author of EarthGames: 50 Nature Games for Ages 3+ – full of chanting “play-it-again” action games that are easy to learn quickly, yet substantial enough to last through repeated play. All games were tested for effectiveness in group play.

Can Exercise Games Help Fight Child Obesity?

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videogamesFrom Your Health Journal…..”A great article from the Chicago Tribune by Vicky Hallett via the The Washington Post entitled Can Exercise Games Help Fight Child Obesity? This is a hot topic, and a question I have been asked a lot in various interviews. Let’s start with the current generation of children, who are the technology generation. They are very sedentary, and use technology way too much instead of participating in physical activity. So, what happens when you mix technology with physical activity? It’s called a healthy compromise. I think anything that can get kids up and moving in a safe environment is a positive. Please visit the Tribune site (link provided below) to read the complete article.”

From the article…..

Todd Miller thinks the only way to solve the childhood obesity crisis in this country is with a revolution. He’s just not sure it should be a “Dance Dance Revolution.”

“DDR,” a video game that requires stomping on arrows to keep up with on-screen choreography, has been touted as a way to win the war on fat — part of a genre of active “exergames” that will teach the next generation the joy of movement.

Although there’s no question that dancing beats chilling on the couch, Miller, an associate professor in the department of exercise science at the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services, wanted to see whether those arrows could really hit their target: students’ daily activity goals.

So during the 2010-11 school year, Miller and his team visited the nearby Francis-Stevens Education Campus to compare the energy expenditure of D.C. public school students in third through eighth grades in three situations: participating in traditional physical education, keeping up with “DDR” and playing “Winds of Orbis,” a story-driven video game that incorporates running, punching and climbing.

The resulting study, published recently in the journal Games for Health, had positive news about the younger children, who managed to meet the criteria for vigorous-intensity activity with all three options. But the kids in sixth through eighth grades seriously fell behind. Only the boys in physical education measured up to the standard. Girls “barely met the criteria for moderate intensity” in any of the activities.

“Preteen girls are more concerned with how they look. They don’t want to mess up their makeup,” says Miller, who’s pessimistic about there being any way around that issue.

Compounding the problem is how easy it is to slack off with an exergame.

To read the full article…..Click here