Cool new hi-tech ways kids are getting fit
Chasing virtual monsters using your phone is a good first step in getting on the road to fitness.
With almost a quarter of kids affected by obesity revealed by the Australian Bureau of Statistics in 2017-18, St Philip's College in Cessnock was inspired to change the narrative of its students' health and fitness levels with smartphone apps.
Last year the school introduced two fitness gyms with cardio and weights equipment where students from years 5 to 10 use a variety of apps to help monitor their exercise, sleep and eating habits.
These include MyFitnessPal and Runtastic to track workouts, FitBod for strength trainers, and popular app Monsuta Fitness, a fitness version of Pokémon Go where students hunt and battle monsters with exercise.
"Teachers use an app called Seconds Interval Timer which allows them to focus on student engagement and technique rather than constantly looking at the clock," said Principal Darren Cox.
Co-founder of Code Camp Hayley Markham said apps they've used such as Dreamy Kid and Super Stretch Yoga offer both meditation and proven techniques that guide children towards ultimate bliss.
"Fitbit and Garmin Vivofit Jr. are also great apps and wristbands for kids aged six and up to track their daily exercise and tick off chores and homework tasks," said Ms Markham.
The positive impact of fitness trackers has motivated kids to get moving while keeping enthusiastic parents involved.
Full-time mum Marie-Claire Abdullah from south Sydney has been trialling fitness apps for her children, Georgia, 13, and Jonathan, 12 - with great results.
"With the high rates of child obesity, there is nothing wrong with getting your kids playing on their phones, especially if it gets them up from sitting on the couch."
Ms Abdullah said some apps such as FitTap and Geocaching, appeal to human nature, especially as they offer leaderboards and competition to track achievements.
"Parents will be happy to see children push up their daily step-count or wander through the backyard over addictive video games like Fortnite and Minecraft," she said.
As parents try to strike a good balance for their children, they should also be aware of the risks of wearable technology such as Fitbit and its ability to collect data.
"We encourage parents to help their children set up their devices, set strong passwords, adjust privacy settings and most importantly check-in regularly," said eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant.