The third week of the study has been a case of two steps forward, one step back; but that’s still a step forward and progress. I finally managed to share the ReimaGO app with the children’s parents and carers which is crucial to the study. The app utilises a gamification process which relies on the fact that most children are very familiar with computer game design. The more actively the children move during the school day (as measured by the sensors), the more quickly they progress in the game and the more rewards they get. So far only about ten parents and carers have accepted the invitation to download the app and follow their child but already at least three children have told me how they now want to be more active at school in order to progress in the game, which is fantastic. I’m hoping word of mouth and more pestering will encourage many more to follow their child’s progress.
I’m also wondering whether the children’s interest in their own physical activity levels may also encourage the parents and carers to become more active, especially with their children. Although I spend most of the day on my feet, I do very little else physically at the evening and weekends and I imagine there must be quite a few parents like me. If being physically active with your own child, even by walking to the shops instead of driving or having fun in the local park, doesn’t tempt you off the sofa, I guess nothing will. An imminent upgrade to the ReimaGO app will allow steps taken to be measured. Since this metric is the main currency of adult fitness trackers, perhaps even more parents might be encouraged to get involved with their children.
Reima are based in Finland, a country which consistently tops the polls when it comes to children’s health, achievement, equality and mental health. When Mikko and Petteri visited us a month ago to set up the sensors, I was very impressed with their general outlook and encouragement they gave me. I asked whether they were hoping our study might also drive sales of the ReimaGO sensor and other products in the UK, and they were quite shocked (and I felt rather awkward for having asked the question). They made it quite clear to me that their goal was more, well how should I say, philanthropic: to promote healthy living not just to the children, but to their families and the wider community. After this week, I think I’m beginning to see what they mean.
Oh, my one step back? A technical problem with our school ipads and unreliable wifi network means I’m having to reset 1ODs sensors this weekend and then reconnect them. It’ll give me an excuse not to watch the royal wedding at least.