Would tracking kids steps (and awarding prizes) get them moving?

Would giving kids a pedometer help them exercise more? Would giving them prizes from a company tracking their movement help them exercise more?

A new product GeoPalz ($19.95) is essentially a cute pedometer. But here’s the twist: each Geopalz has a serial number that you can log into a computer. The kids earn 1 Geopalz point for every 2,500 step that they use toward prizes.

From GeekDad on Wired.com:

“The goal is to get the kids motivated to walk/run/be active with the GeoPalz pedometer and earn prizes with each point earned—which can include GeoPalz-branded hacky-sacks, flying discs, footballs, or store gift cards.  Both kids are shooting for a $10 Target gift card (199 points or nearly 500,000 steps). They’ve been jumping, running, and wiggling to make their pedometer gain more points.”

“So, the GeoPalz world works this way—you buy a GeoPalz branded pedometer (for $19.95) or provide your own pedometer when registering (for $14.95) and the kids earn points towards their prizes. Once a prize is earned, the parents will pay between $0.50 and $3.50 for shipping/handling of the physical prizes.”

“The kids can also earn virtual motivational awards (like tracking steps for 5 days in a row or reaching 10,000 steps) to keep them working toward their goal.”

The Wired Dad who reviewed the product said his kids lost them before they could even register them. They got a second set but neither has earned enough points to win anything. He said the kids did like trying to beat other for more steps. The questions is can they stay excited about the product long enough to win prizes?

So what do you think? Would your kid be inspired by this product? Would it help them exercise more? Would they like the virtual awards or just want the prizes? (Seems like you could set this up at home and just have little prizes to give them.)

37 comments Add your comment

catlady

February 16th, 2011
7:08 am

Or, you could just boot your kids outside, give them safe parameters, and let them come back in at dark. Allow them to join up with an active sport league. Or go for walks or play actively with them yourself. I would certainly never pay $20 for something that children normally do on their own. Just unplug the TV, video games, and computer, and tell them to get a life (if you have allowed them to “amuse” themselves with those things instead of letting them use their imaginations and PLAY)

Sad, but true: I see little kids starting school who DON”T KNOW HOW TO PLAY. They have been kept cooped up, parked in front of the electronic babysitters, and largely ignored. Reminds me of the Golden Retriever I rescued who had been in a crate for most of her 4 months. She didn’t know how to play! A Golden Retriever! (I can now report that she was able to learn to play, it just took LETTING HER OUT OF THE CRATE and PLAYING WITH HER!)

deidre_NC

February 16th, 2011
7:16 am

i agree catlady….get the kids out of the house and let them play outside!! i think the pedometer is a good idea just for the fun of it…i wouldnt pay to have it registered tho. we wear them at work occassionally just to see how many step we tak throughout the day (A LOT!!!) and its kind of fun just to see that….so kids might like it too. but kids should play outside and run around and play sports–alll of those things….the pedometer could just add a little fun and some good old fashioned competition….but again- i would do the registration and prize thing.

deidre_NC

February 16th, 2011
7:19 am

should have been ‘i wouldnt do the registration and prize thing. it may be ok for some kids…im sorry for the kids that need a competition to do what kids should do anyway!

Me

February 16th, 2011
7:36 am

@catlady — well stated –

Photius

February 16th, 2011
8:13 am

Radical idea: go play a game of catch in the back yard every day after work. Get them involved in sports and the problem is solved.

The topics lately have started to degenerate into the mundane and even sometime silly, as is the case today. Rather than posting topics on what your bought and displaying it on facebook or silly salad art, suggestions parents face:

Would you allow your child to enlist in the service knowing he would get stationed in Afghanistan?

Now go boot your children outside and give them a ball and a bat and leave them alone.

Wendy Davis

February 16th, 2011
8:15 am

Kids are crafty. They know they can bounce or shake a pedometer to get more steps. The Pokemon Heart Gold and Soul Silver Nintendo DS games came with one and you earn higher levels and new pokemon with the pedometer (it attached right to the DS). My boys enjoyed it for a bit but then figured out how to shake it/tap it to get more steps. They play outside almost every day (even in the 130″ of snow in Syracuse) we all do martial arts together. Nothing beats the whole family being active together.

RJ

February 16th, 2011
8:17 am

Why not enroll the kid in a sports activity? It’s funny that when I was growing up being told you couldn’t go outside was punishment. Fastforward 20 years and it’s punishment to be forced to go outside. My kids have always played outside because they had no other choice. They also are involved in school sports and recreational sports. As parents we have to “show” kids how to be healthy. If mom is buying a pedometer and doesn’t exercise, I’m sure the kid is wondering why should they. With that being said, no one thing works for everybody. So, if this gets some kid more active, I say go for it.

@catlady, I see kids not knowing how to play everyday. But…they sure can fight!

iRun

February 16th, 2011
8:31 am

Here’s what we do:

1. No television/video games/computer during the school week.
2. TV only after dark on Friday-Sunday, never past 10pm on the weekend, never for more than 2 hours at a stretch.
3. You HAVE to play a sport in the spring and fall. No argument. (For my kid it’s soccer in the spring and football in the fall. He’s 9.)
4. If the weather is nice, you are going outside.
5. During the summer when school is out, you’re doing sports camps at least half the summer.

motherjanegoose

February 16th, 2011
8:32 am

To answer the question….probably not. When it is a novelty…maybe but as a life long skill NO to me.

@ RJ….the ying and yang of playing together with kids your age ( in the yard) and NO adults sadly has gone by the wayside. Several things can be learned when kids are outside together:

teamwork
problem solving
pecking order
cause and effect
language skills
organizing thoughts and behaviors
adapting to new environments
imaginations

I see kids, all the time, who need to be entertained. Sad but true. If they never explore how to get along and figure out things for themselves…perhaps this is why they fight? Also, the children could be used to having things worked out for them by adults and thus do not know how to handle things themselves. My kids report they see friends like this in college.

Is this a parallel: our government providing everything for you and when you see others who have more than you ( that isn’t fair…LOL) you fight to take it, simply because you want it. there is some self respect in learning to do things independently and not having it given to you.

Brad

February 16th, 2011
8:34 am

Turn off the TV and X-Box.

JJ

February 16th, 2011
8:34 am

The only thing that will get a kid motivated are THE PARENTS!!!!! You HAVE to get them off their butts, and get them outside. Fresh air NEVER killed anyone……

DON’T buy video game systems, don’t buy computer games…….

I am such a fan of the great outdoors. I am outside ALL the time, unless it is pouring down rain. In our old neighborhood, I was the one organizing kick ball, hide & seek, kick the can, etc. I guess I was the Camp counselor. All the kids waited for me and my neighbor to get home from work. I bought a badmitton set, and set it up in the front yard. We had championships, brackets, the whole 9 yards……THEY LOVED IT. I would come home from work, and there would be 10 kids in my yard, practicing…..LOL…….

YES to Bikes, scooters, skateboards. NO to video/computer games……

And you chose to have these kids, now get out there and PLAY with them. MAKE MEMORIES.

karma

February 16th, 2011
8:44 am

Sign them up for soccer or basketball, buy yourself a good book. Sit on the sidelines with your mouth shut and read your book. The Secret to Raising Kids 101.

motherjanegoose

February 16th, 2011
8:46 am

JJ…any update on your neighbor’s 2 year old?

Lady Strange

February 16th, 2011
8:52 am

I will be enrolling my son in soccer in the fall and he’s already said he wants to play baseball, but I think he needs to be 4 years old for that. Soccer I know he can do at 3. And he loves to kick the soccer ball around that’s for sure. He loves to play outside so I try to give him as much chance to do that as possible.

Lady Strange

February 16th, 2011
8:57 am

I still don’t understand the problem with letting your kids play video/computer games on occassion. It doesn’t hurt them in moderation. My son loves to play on the computer and with his new hand held game he got for his birthday. But he would drop those both in a second to go to the park or play outside. It’s all about moderation and paying attention to what your kids are doing. The games he has are educational, teaching letters and counting and letting him draw and color. Not to mention we read books every night before bed. His favorite book lately is a counting book. So video games aren’t for you or your kids, we get it. It doesn’t make them bad or bad for kids.

b

February 16th, 2011
8:58 am

What????? My kids have always played outside. When they were little I had to go out with them of course, but come on, paying them to be active. As they got older, they always participated in a sport. My oldest played competitive soccer and just finished her senior season in college. My son has always done something; he needs the outlet of playing an active sport.

It was funny yesterday at my 16 yo’s physical. The MD asked if he was physically active. My son looked at me and back to the MD and said, “Well, I play basketball and soccer in high school, club soccer and golf. Does that count?” The MD laughed and said, “I wish I had more kids who answered like that.”

Mom of older kids

February 16th, 2011
9:09 am

Mine broke his collar bone at wrestling practice in December and has been on the sidelines and jumpy for 2 months. Thank goodness track practice started and he was cleared to participate. He did learn a good lesson….you can eat like an athlete and be a couch potato. Hopefullly he will remember that as an adult.

iRun

February 16th, 2011
9:09 am

Lady Strange, every kid is different. My kid’s brain turns into a mushy pile of nonsense when he spends too much time on video games. And this is unrelated to the fact that he likes to play sport or read (he’s read Watership Down and 5 of the Harry Potter books). But when he starts playing video games he becomes very resistant to stopping. If we left him alone he’d play until he passed out. But you know what? He’s 9 and WE’RE the parents. So, we know his limitations and tendencies and we say, “No television or video games during the school week and only a few hours on the weekend – no argument, you know it up front so if you throw a hissy fit when we make you turn it off don’t be surprised when I take it away from you for the rest of the weekend.”

Mom of older kids

February 16th, 2011
9:11 am

@ Photius…I didn’t know that you child (adult) needed his/hers parents permission to enlist in the service.

JJ

February 16th, 2011
9:33 am

MJG – they are taking her to the dentist today to get all 5 cavities filled. They didn’t go last week, because her mom didn’t want to wake her up and have make her go. I told her that was ok, the teeth will just rot and fall out.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

February 16th, 2011
9:49 am

Photius — we did that topic several years ago. I generally don’t repeat topics because then you guys yell about that.

TallMom

February 16th, 2011
9:58 am

Best thing we ever did for our kids was give them a walkie-talkie set (my kids can have cell phones when they’re old enough to PAY FOR THEM). With walkie-talkies, they can safely explore, play, hang out in areas of the neighborhood we’ve agreed upon and I don’t have to worry about anything happening (because we all know moms like to worry).

The kids LOVE the freedom and I LOVE that they play outside as much as possible.

Another thing we do…the kids earn video game time by reading or playing outside. For every 30 min outside or reading, they earn 10 min of video game time. The time they earn expires each day so they can’t roll it over into a huge lump sum. It also encourages them to manage their time more wisely.

Longtime Educator

February 16th, 2011
10:01 am

TallMom…if only more parents had your kid raising ideas!

Becky

February 16th, 2011
10:22 am

@Lady Strange..For some kids, there isn’t a problem with them playing games..Some kids just aren’t outdoor kids..I have a nephew that my sister always had him and his twin enrolled in outdoor sports..He hated them most all of his life and only wanted to play games..He is now about to retire from the Air Force at the age of 36 (I think)..He has been in the intelligence dept. the entire time and has a whopping waist size of 30 inches..Yes, he can pass the mandatory fitness test that they have..

As has already been mentioned, it’s all in moderation..Some of the games that my two plaay are learning games, so to me it’s not a big deal that they play them..They go out and ride their bikes, they go hiking with us when the weather is good for it..They read every night and on the weekends, they aren’t vegatables..

Becky

February 16th, 2011
10:24 am

Oops, vegetables..

JATL

February 16th, 2011
10:30 am

Amen catlady -and TallMom! I love that walkie talkie idea and will be using it in a few years!

Personally I think this pedometer idea is stupid, but if it gets some of them moving, then I guess it’s okay. I have to say, I’m a little sick of EVERYTHING having to have a “reward” attached. How about a life without obesity, heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure as a reward? I’m all for playing -and parents need to MOVE their lazy butts too! Model for your kids folks -and no one can say they don’t need to exercise. EVERYONE needs to exercise. If you have a 4,5, or 6 year old, sign yourselves up for a 1 mile fun run. Many road races feature these along with 5 or 10Ks or marathons. There’s a Publix one at Grant Park in March during the marathon weekend. Ride bikes, get the kid a scooter, introduce them to tennis or golf for tee ball -whatever! If you have a fenced yard, put them outside and let them be creative. It’s never to early or too late. This spring my oldest is playing tee-ball for the first time (YEA!) and taking golf lessons. My youngest, a 2 year old, LOVES sports and playing with balls (insert joke here) because we signed him up for a PlayBall program at his preschool and regularly get in the yard and play. That little booger has a mean soccer kick and technically correct basketball pass already! Exposure and modeling go a long way…

Bluebell Jones

February 16th, 2011
10:42 am

Walkie-talkies? Oh for heavens sake, just let them play. And pedometers are stupid for kids. They don’t care. Establish boundaries and let them test themselves in the real world. That’s what good parenting is-letting go a little more each day but only as much as the kid needs. It’s a tricky thing. Also, thanks for the poorly thought through four paragraphs-there really are issues out there that are more important for kids than pedometers, disney vacations and the Gifford family. I’d provide you with a list but since you are getting paid to do this (and why I still don’t know) I guess you’ll have to do it instead.

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motherjanegoose

February 16th, 2011
12:35 pm

I never played a single sport growing up. I did walk a mile to school each day and we walked home and back for lunch. We rode our bikes all over the place. When we moved to the farm, there was much more exercise and out door chores….gardening and hay hauling. We did not watch much TV. We did not even have electronics. We had a party line on the phone. We also read a lot of books.

When we moved into this neighborhood, we saw so many families out and about. It was perfect for us. My kids both played sports and rode bikes and scooters. It was simply how we did things.
I am NOT the fitness queen but I am about kids getting fresh air and sunshine. We put a fence in our back yard, when the kids were little, so I kid ship them out there with our dog and know they were safe.

Parents are sometimes too lazy to go out side with their kids and also to tired to argue with them, so they just let them do whatever they want. HHHMMMM…..

motherjanegoose

February 16th, 2011
12:36 pm

ooops…so I COULD ship them out there…

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

February 16th, 2011
2:15 pm

@ JATL…..regarding your insert jokes here….my kids was into balls to and we have the sports apparel store here name Dick’s.

So I used to just love this little exchange when in mixed company:

Me: “where do you want to go?’
Him: “DICKS!”
Me: “what do you want to get?”
Him: “BALLS!”

I know what you all are thinking….my wife is LUCKY!

JJ

February 16th, 2011
2:26 pm

Tiger – we have Dick’s here too…..And I meant the store…LOL…

justmy2cents

February 16th, 2011
2:31 pm

@mom of older kids- parents do have to sign for their children to enter the military if they do it under the age of 18. I went into the Army at 17, and my folks both had to sign for me. It does happen.

JATL

February 16th, 2011
2:32 pm

@Tiger -hee hee hee. JJ is correct, we have Dick’s here in Atlanta. In fact there is a HUGE Dick’s in Buckhead…maybe I’ll ask the boys if they want to go check out Dick’s balls the next time we’re at my mother-in-laws.

In a somewhat related, but completely off topic story -my parents used to operate a pecan business. They shipped everywhere and bought from individuals and wholesale. Without fail, every autumn, we would be walking as a family down the hall at church and an old lady or two would approach my father and ask him, “How are your nuts this year?” Then my mom and I would stagger off in hysterics ;-) It never got old!

deidre_NC

February 16th, 2011
6:43 pm

@tallmom…i had walkies for my kids too….that way they could go a fair distance and still be in touch. where i live it is a good idea since there are long areas where there are no houses or people in case something happened.

@photius-kids dont need permission to enlist. not unless they are under 18-but they dont go active until they are 18 anyway. so the topic might be….would you like it if….not would you allow them to…

@jatl and tiger…we have Dicks here too…not the store :)

deidre_NC

February 16th, 2011
6:45 pm

funny off topic story—when i met my late husbands family, who are very upper class people…his uncle introduced himself and his son as ‘I’m big dick and this is my son little dick’ i thought i would die!!! lol

Swim

February 20th, 2011
12:17 pm

I love this idea! I have a very active 5 year old who I like to walk home from school (although the school district wants him to be a bus rider). The walk is just under a mile. I’m going to get this for him so he can get more excited about the walk at the end of the school day. He does not play video games but does get a maximum of 1 hour of tv a day. He is in karate 2-3 times a week and if it is even remotely nice outside, we’re outside playing with him. My son also watches me compete in swimming and knows that I swim 4 days a week before he’s even awake. He’s very active and I see this as a way to make being active even more fun. For $20, why not?