The technology often blamed for rising childhood obesity will in the future help make children fitter and healthier, a new report predicts.
In an age where there is an abundance of technology; video games, computers, tablets and smart phones have often been linked to record levels of inactivity and even poor diets among British teenagers.
However, according to the Future of Play report by future trends experts Futurizon, it will be the advancement in these technologies which will make the next generation more active, not less.
The report was commissioned by Soreen as part of the Soreen Squidgy Fun initiative - in partnership with the Youth Sport Trust - which encourages children and families to become more active together and shows how they can utilise technology to aid activity and fitness levels. This is supported by a bespoke online platform that provides children and families with fun games, suggestions and inspiration to help them get fit together.
Alison Oliver, Chief Executive at the Youth Sport Trust said: “Technology can play a huge role in helping to engage young people and families with being physically active in a fun and enjoyable way.
“We know from our own Class of 2035 report and working closely with schools that integrating digital technology into PE lessons and other subjects can increase participation and enjoyment and empowers young people to take responsibility for their own activity levels.”
She added: “If technology can be used to support young people and families to become more active, whilst educating them about healthy lifestyles, we’ll have a nation of fitter, happier people.”
With the rise in wearable tech, fitness apps, heart rate monitors and trackers, the report suggests that new fitness technologies and developments are set to enhance the nation’s fitness levels.
For example, the advances in smart phone technologies and high accuracy GPS systems will create entirely new fun physical activities for children in the not-too-distant future. Other gadgets, such as activity-tracking jewellery, will help encourage children towards physical activity.
Perhaps the most significant change predicted in the report for the next decade will be the arrival of augmented reality. Augmented reality video games will have gamers playing outdoors, with players obliged to be active and inadvertently exercising as they themselves move around in the game. With the fantasy world normally confined to a computer screen or console, new technology will enable the gamer to have an active, fully immersive experience, overlaid into the real world.
Over the coming years Augmented Reality glasses, which superimpose computer-generated data onto the real world view, will become as normal as owning a smart phone. It will mean that, while previous generations of technology obliged people to stare at a screen, AR glasses will encourage users to get out and explore the world.
According to the report’s author, Dr Ian Pearson, the glasses will revolutionise everything from family outings to school trips.
Dr Pearson said: "Augmented reality blends the virtual and real worlds, so encourages people to go out and do things, with computers enhancing the real world.
"AR can conjure all sorts of imaginary things into the real world to make it much more fun. In active play, kids could make dragons appear to chase friends or parents, while a game of AR tag increases the incentive to escape if the victim might be transformed into something awful if caught."
Bethan Brown, marketing director from Soreen, said: "We all know how hard it is to be active so it’s good to know that technology can be a help and not be a hindrance in getting families moving.”
She added: "As part of our partnership with Youth Sport Trust, we have already developed an online resource to get families active and it’s exciting to know that, in the future, technology may continue to help kids to be more active, not hinder them, as well as bringing families closer."