These new games use the power of the screen to reconnect kids to the outdoors. In March 2013, Outdoor Nation sponsored Game On Challenge Grants to encourage app designers to build real-world games that inspire outdoor play. One of the grant applications is from a team of Wellesley students. These students created Bunny Bolt a game where kids run around the real world and complete virtual challenges to recapture a magician’s bunnies. Bunny Bolt is still in test mode but hopefully it or games like it will be available soon.
Inspired by Bunny Bolt, I went searching for more apps and games that encourage outdoor play. I found some that looked like a fun way to combine screen time and green time. Sadly, I have not had the chance to play all these games and there are probably others available that I did not list. Please comment if you played any of these games or if you have other “green time” apps to recommend.
Digital scavenger hunt
With a digital scavenger hunt, kids race around trying to find items on a list and capture it by taking a picture. To get started, kids need a list of items and a digital camera, tablet, or phone. Parents can come up with a list of items found in a park, around the neighborhood or in their own backyard. If you want to really get them moving, set a time limit. If you need help making a list, the eclectic site has a long list of items for younger and older kids.
According to the Pew Internet, teens, although still on Facebook, ”have a waning enthusiasm for Facebook.” They are looking for new social media sites to add to their laptops and mobiles. Two of the rising stars for teens are Twitter and Instagram. Some other sites are also on their radar. One site I hear about and parents should definitely watch out for is ask.fm.
Ask.fm is a question and answer site that reminds me of Formspring. On ask.fm, users can ask each other questions and answers are posted on their profile. Ask.fm is available as an app or on the desktop. Teens, over 13 years old, can sign up and create a profile by filling in their name, username and email or using their Facebook or Twitter account. Once they are on, they can add more information to their profile such as a picture or their location.
Middle school is tough. Suddenly, your little kid is almost as tall as you. They greet all family activities with an eye roll and a heavy sigh. Every time you look at them they are texting their friends. There always seems to be some sort of drama happening at the middle school. Someone said something or someone was upset because they were not invited somewhere.
Today, cliques and drama are not limited to the school halls. It goes on 24/7 with the pictures of the party they were not invited to on Instagram or the list of the 5 prettiest girls/cutest boys on Facebook. And sometimes, middle school drama can escalate to the point where a kid feels powerless and bullied. According to the School District’s 2012 Healthy Youth Survey, 27% of 6th graders and 24% of 8th graders at IMS reported being bullied in the last 30 days.