I’m always a little sceptical about products that promise to get my kid moving. I mean, surely we can use the good ol’ fashioned ways of encouraging our kids to get moving, rather than relying on tech to get them off the couch?
But when I found my four-year-old and his bestie excitedly doing turtle crawls and star jumps at 6.15am the other morning, following instructions via the Leapfrog Leapband, I realised that perhaps this was quite a cool and fun gadget.
While I don’t think it’s the “cure” for inactive or couch-bound kids, it ticks all the boxes for a great fitness-type tech toy – it’s fun, it’s engaging, it’s motivating, and entertaining.
Here’s what you need to know:
– The Leapband has 50 different activities, and the more a child does, the more points (jewels) they’ll get, unlocking more games and challenges.
– The Leapband has a built-in accelerometer (which tracks a kid’s activity), high-resolution colour screen, rechargeable battery and water-resistant design. It can also be used as a digital or analogue watch.
– The device also has virtual pets, much like Tamagotchi toys from back in the day. There are eight pets to choose from – a dog, cat, dragon, monkey, panda, penguin, robot and unicorn – which can be customised by name and colour.
– Kids can exercise with their pet, as well as look after them by feeding, playing and bathing them. Kids can access more pets, plus toys and treats for them, by doing more physical activities to unlock them.
– Activities include “crawl like a tortoise”, “dance like a chicken”, “swim like a fish with a wish” and “hop like popcorn”, so they’re really fun to do, and don’t feel like “exercise” for kids.
– The Leapband comes with a downloadable companion app called the Petathlon Games, so kids can compete as their virtual pet in six games such as archery, surfing and bobsledding to win extras including medals and new tracksuits for their virtual pet. The Petathlon app is available for download to a child’s LeapPad Ultra, iOS or Android smartphone or tablet.
The LeapBand activity tracker sells for around R500, which I think is pretty good considering what it does (read on). It’s also cool enough to be considered a great Christmas gift, making this a winner. It will be available from next month, in pink, green, blue and orange, from online stores and major toy shops.