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Play is an essential part of child development, impacting kids’ physical, mental and social development. Is there really a better time for kids to explore the world of play than in spring?

The popularity of video games has hindered children’s desire to step outside and play. The couch has now become the year-round digital playground for both kids and adults as they furiously tap away on screens and clutch controllers. No wonder 81 per cent of Australian kids aged between 5 and 17 years don’t meet the recommended physical activity guidelines of 60 minutes daily. Many experts have debated the negative effects of the heavy screen usage of children and the impact that has on social development, however recent innovations in screen technology has seen the screen spring into the outdoors, making it more active and healthier than ever before.

This disruption to the screen is the beginning of what looks like an active gaming movement. Exercise is being ‘gamified’ to get people off the couch, outdoors and experiencing what play is really about – sunlight, fresh air and imagination.

Augmented reality in the palm of our hands

The phenomenon that has swept the world in recent months on our smart devices is Pokémon Go. Users have travelled through strange, unusual and sometimes dangerous locations in their local cities, towns and suburbs to catch the famous pocket monsters and battle at local gyms. The widespread game has helped take people outdoors and even incentivised kids to exercise in an effort to ‘catch ‘em all’.

The worldwide trend has been praised and criticised globally, with discussions surrounding the safety, ethicality and legality of the game. At the end of the day, the decision to allow children to play Pokemon Go rests solely in the hands of those children’s parents and should also be policed by those parents.

The world’s first smart trampoline

Pokémon Go is not the only gaming technology encouraging kids to get active this spring. Springfree Trampoline has created the world’s first ‘smart’ trampoline. Springfree Trampoline with tgoma has four small sensor pads on the mat, which integrate with a tablet device through Bluetooth, enabling users to play games while jumping on the trampoline. The digital and physical worlds could not have met in a more exciting way!

Benchmark Psychology clinical psychologist and Internet addiction expert Dr Tania McMahon believes that while technology and screens are here to stay, Springfree Trampoline’s tgoma system is a great way to adopt these modern technologies to encourage a more active lifestyle among children.

“I love that tgoma motivates kids to exercise with games that are rewarding and appealing, but that are ultimately self-limiting as kids can only play for as long as they can jump,” she says.

tgoma’s enrichment of childhood play is enhanced by the myriad health benefits trampolining has on offer, including cardiovascular fitness, bone strengthening and endorphin release. But these are not the only benefits of jumping on a trampoline. Did you know that just 10 minutes of bouncing is the same as 30 minutes of running?

Gateway Therapies director and occupational therapist Dr Nicole Grant says tgoma offers plenty of developmental and physical benefits for children.

“Jumping on a trampoline provides kids with vestibular and proprioceptive input, which helps regulate their moods and level of alertness,” she explains. “As tgoma provides a multi-sensory approach to learning, kids are likely to benefit more from interacting with digital devices while jumping on a trampoline than if they were just using an iPad.”

Springfree Trampoline featuring tgoma is the perfect reason for kids to shift their gaming from the couch to the backyard and make the most of the warmer weather. While there may not be too many Pokemon in sight in your backyard, tgoma promises endless fun with games such as Fruitants and Alien Stomp.

Visit www.springfreetrampoline.com.au/tgoma

Words // Nicholas Grech

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haven  

haven is all about family, life and style in Brisbane's inner city suburbs, the Gold Coast, south to Byron Bay. We have been keeping parents in the know for over eight years, with fun, fresh and helpful stories that they can take tips from or treasure in their own library.