Parents, do you remember the days before smart devices? The days before you could hand your kid a tablet or phone in exchange for at least 20 minutes of uninterrupted quiet? I hope I’m not alone in the personal love/hate relationship I have with smart devices. One minute I find myself using them as a virtual babysitter just to get through a conference call at home. The next, I find myself wishing I could program them to shut off after 20 minutes so that my kids (and my husband) don’t wind up looking like the “humans” in Wall*e. (I’ve heard the Kindle Fire has this option. Anyone know if an iPad can be made to do the same?)
Parental musings aside, I believe smart devices certainly do have their part to play when it comes to educating or even conditioning healthcare consumers, especially in the area of gamification. This point was driven home when I overheard my oldest say to my youngest as they played on the iPad, “Your health value isn’t high enough. You need to add more broccoli.”
“Smoothie Master” from TabTale was their game of choice. As the name implies, they were tasked with becoming masters of smoothie creation. I’m still not sure if this game is winnable in the traditional sense, but my seven year-old did explain to me that you could win points for adding healthy ingredients.
TabTale doesn’t seem particularly invested in promoting a healthy lifestyle, as it also has similar apps for mastering the art of making pizzas and hamburgers. But, their inclusion of a health value scoring system does make me wonder if this younger generation will grow up with an inherent sense of what behaviors will keep them healthy in real life. (The irony being that all the broccoli in the world won’t do them any good if they stay glued to the devices that are helping provide this type of education.)
Now, if I can just figure out a way to “gamify” the health value of the broccoli I fix at home so that my kids will eat it and think they have “won.” Let me know in the comments below if you’ve figured out a way to take virtual culinary successes offline and into the real world of kid-friendly cuisine.