Reward kids' exercise with screen time? There's an app for that
Published Friday, March 25, 2016 10:30AM EDT
Two Saskatoon software developers are hoping to reward kids for exercising, but not with the kind of currency they are used to.
Software developers Dustin Gamester and Andrew Crouse have developed a program called FitCoins, a payment system that allows kids to spend time on digital devices if they’ve put in the physical work.
FitCoins assigns kids points when they are active; each step is equal to one FitCoin and one FitCoin is then equal to one second of game time.
Every time a kid uses a gaming device, their FitCoin balance starts to deplete. Once the number hits zero, the screen either shuts off or goes into a negative balance, depending on the setting users choose.
It would be up to parent to decide which apps on a phone or tablet count as a game.
Gamester told CTV Saskatoon that he thinks the problem of obsessive video game use is even worse than when he was a kid.
"Games are designed to be addicting nowadays. We figured this could be a potential solution for a big problem," he said.
Exercise is tracked either through a kid’s smartphone or wearable activity monitor such as a Fitbit. The child’s exercise data is then sent into the FitCoins adapter.
"Our website hooks into the back end of those services and pulls in how many steps they’ve taken, so it can add to the user’s balance," Crouse said.
The software has already been developed for smartphones, tablets and televisions, with development underway for desktop computers.
A full launch of the system is scheduled for January.
With a report from CTV Saskatoon’s Angelina Irinici