7 Tech Products That Will Make Kids Want to Play Outside
Most kids don’t spend a lot of time outside, even though spending time outdoors is great for physical fitness and mental health. Many parents want to get their kids to put down their gadgets and get outdoors. But that can be a tough sell if your children love their mobile games or are working on projects that tether them to the internet. So if getting them to give up the screens and data plans is a no-go this summer, why not try a new approach? With some planning, you can use your existing gadgets or find new tech products that will make your kids want to play outside.
1. A camera
A camera, whether it’s a smartphone, the family’s DSLR, or even a disposable film camera, can be a great way to get kids to go outside and look around. If you really want your kids to be adventurous about documenting the great outdoors, it may be a good idea to leave the shatter-proof smartphones at home and opt for a camera that’s better able to take some abuse. You can even purchase a simple, inexpensive digital camera for your kids to use. They’ll not only learn the basics of photography, particularly if you teach them the basics of focusing the camera and framing a photo, but will have a new reason to really look around when they’re exploring the great outdoors. Learning to take photos without disturbing wildlife or trampling wildflowers is also a great way to learn to respect nature, a key part of enjoying time outside.
Sure, kids are pretty familiar with cell phones these days, even if they’re too young to have one of their own. But why not go old-school and give your kids walkie-talkies to help them coordinate their games and adventures in the backyard and around the neighborhood? There are plenty of walkie-talkies designed for kids, but opt for a set like this Motorola pair for better reliability and a longer range. Your kids (and their friends) likely won’t have any problem coming up with games and adventures with a set of walkie-talkies in tow.
3. A drone
Even for the most iPad-addicted kids, flying a drone can be better than playing a video game. The Parrot Airborne MiniDrone is an affordable place to start, and features a shock-resistant and durable design to endure inevitable bumps and crash landings. It’s also equipped with a compartment for holding small objects, and you can attach LEGO bricks or minifigures to customize it. Kids can use the built-in camera to take photos, and you can control the device from your smartphone or tablet.
4. An activity tracker
If you really just want your kids to get outside and move, an activity tracker designed for kids may be a good way to get them started. The iBitz pedometer from GeoPalz, for instance, attaches to your child’s shoe or waistband and tracks their steps and activity for the day. A spaceship in the companion app is powered by your child’s steps, and the more active your child is, the more they’re able to explore and the more rewards they can earn. Parents can set goals and add rewards, and you can customize rewards to include screen time or even custom Amazon prizes. Other kid-friendly activity trackers include the X-Doria KidFit and the LeapFrog LeapBand.
5. A waterproof speaker
If you have trouble getting your kids to play outside, it may be time to try out the foolproof combination of water and their favorite music. Whether you have a pool in your backyard, are headed to the beach, or are making do with a hose, water guns, or water balloons, a waterproof Bluetooth speaker like the UE Roll 2 will add some fun to any water fight by enabling your kids to listen to their favorite music outdoors. A pool party with a great soundtrack will make any summer afternoon feel more like a party, and your kids may be less apt to hurry back to their tablets and PCs inside if they can control what’s playing outside.
6. A telescope
If your child is one of the many who love staying up past their bedtime, a telescope may be the perfect way to learn about something new. A small telescope, like the Celestron 70mm travel scope, is great for beginning stargazers of all ages. There are plenty of books (and apps and websites) that can teach you the basics of astronomy. But there’s nothing like hanging out in the backyard and taking a close look at the stars and the moon yourself to get kids to step away from Netflix and mobile games for the night. You may even find yourself with a budding astronomer or aspiring astronaut on your hands.
7. The phone, tablet, or computer you already have
Finally, you can use the gadgets you probably already have in the house to get your family outside. Whether your kids are using a smartphone, a tablet, or a computer, enlist their help to plan an outdoor adventure with the help of those gadgets. Depending on their age, kids can use a smartphone or computer to find a park, choose a hiking trail, or pick a beach to explore. Then once the route is chosen, you can leave the screens at home. Or, if you’d prefer to get your kids outside in your own backyard, try a scavenger hunt app. Alternately, send your kids on a mission to identify the trees, flowers, or bugs in the garden armed with an educational app.