Toymaker Fisher-Price announced it Wednesday at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
The bike is designed for kids between ages three and six-years-old and it’s comes with a free learning app.
The idea is that kids will learn as they peddle the bike and get exercise along the way.
The smart cycle comes with a $150 price tag
It looks like this is more or less an update on the Smart Cycle that has been available for some time.
This is a bad idea.
Here are some of my main concerns.
This normalizes screen time
In general, kids are healthier when they get less screen time. And in general, kids in North America get more screen time than would be ideal. So any screen-based device aimed at young kids is only going to add to the problem. If you are looking for a general rule when buying toys for young children, “something that does not include a screen” is a good place to start.
This probably won’t increase physical activity levels
To date, active games haven’t been very effective at increasing physical activity levels among kids. There might be a little increase at first, but then things drop back down to normal. Here is the Active Healthy Kids Canada position statement on active games for kids:
Active Healthy Kids Canada DOES NOT recommend active video games as a strategy to help kids be more physically active.
- Playing active video games doesn’t lead to increased overall daily physical activity levels.
- Active video games may get heart rates up, but they’re not significantly helping kids get to the 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity required each day.
- Kids find active video games appealing, but the appeal wears off over time and many don’t stick with them
- Active video games don’t offer the fresh air, vitamin D, connection with nature and social interactions that come with outdoor active play.
This likely will NOT help with childhood obesity
I wish this paragraph from Gizmodo was meant to be ironic. Sadly, I don’t think it was:
Your tablet-obsessed kid spending hours on the couch poking at a touchscreen probably isn’t doing their waistline any favors. But instead of wrestling an iPad out of their hands, Fisher-Price wants to help battle childhood obesity with a tablet holder that’s essentially an exercise bike for kids.
Maybe I’m wrong, and this bike will encourage large increases in physical activity, without any impact on food intake (keep in mind that screen time often promotes excess food intake). And that these increases in activity will be large and sustained enough to help a child lose weight, and keep it off. That seems… unlikely.
This promotes the idea that “exercise” is something to cram into your day, rather than a natural part of life
I really dislike the word “exercise”. If you ask most people if they like “exercise” they will say no. Exercise is not fun. Exercise is running on a treadmill, or riding a stationary bike.
People like “activity”. Walking the dog. Playing catch. Going fishing or paddling. Playing outside with their family. Those are all good forms of activity that people enjoy, and do willingly (unlike “exercise”, which most people avoid consciously or unconsciously).
For too long people like me have emphasized the benefits of “exercise”, which people do not like, rather than “activity”, which they do like. This has been a bad public health strategy. It leads to ridiculous things, like screen-mounted exercise bikes for children. As opposed to real bikes, which kids like anyway, don’t require a screen, and cost less than $150.