Parents, increasingly concerned that their children aren’t getting enough exercise, are looking to toys and games that nudge kids into more active lifestyles. They’re also borrowing from the quantified-self movement to monitor kids’ health and wellness.
Approximately one in three children in the U.S. are now considered to be overweight or obese, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That number has tripled since the 1970s. Researchers point to a lack of physical activity as a contributing factor. As a result, games and toys that encourage healthy behaviors are an attractive market for toy developers, fitness trackers and game designers.
The Gululu interactive smart water bottle and health tracker for kids encourages them to drink more water. The bottle includes an LED screen with a preloaded game. The more water kids drink, the further their character will get in the game. Parents can monitor their children’s hydration in real-time using a mobile app.
Garmin’s Vivofit Jr. is a fitness tracker that logs steps and activity, and its companion app works alongside an adventure game. Parents set daily targets and rewards. When an activity goal has been reached, kids can redeem their activity for the prizes their parents have created. (Playdates and sleepovers are popular.)
Nintendo’s Ring Fit Adventure, which debuted in October 2019, highlights a new era of gamified health toys and games built for kids. As an add-on for the Nintendo Switch console, the game takes the player on an athletic adventure through worlds, villages and gyms. Cute monsters, dispatched by arch-nemesis Drageaux, challenge players to battles: simple yoga poses, squats, crunches and planks. During the quest, players jog or run in place. Kids who play the game spend an average of 30 minutes in active movement.
On the horizon: massively multiplayer online fitness games, in which kids can connect with each other and go on active adventures together.
Apps, games and toys to quantify kids’ health are becoming widely available, and they will have a spill-over effect into other sectors like consumer electronics, home automation and network connectivity.
Bandai Namco Holdings, Garmin, Google’s Stadia, Gululu, Microsoft, Nintendo, Sony, toy retailers everywhere.