The tech world exploded this week with the news that Fisher-Price is releasing its Think & Learn Smart Cycle, a stationary bike for preschoolers that allows children to peddle in place in front of a tablet.
Fisher-Price explains to Babble that the bike was created as a way to fuse technology, learning, and movement through play in a “guilt-free screen time experience” that both parents and kids will love.
“We know preschoolers learn best and retain more through active play, but they’re also fascinated by technology like apps. Parents want their kids to be tech savvy because they realize the large role tech will play in their children’s future. However, they want a balance and when they do let their children engage with screens they want it to be a positive experience.”
The bike, which has a weight capacity of 74 pounds and is designed for ages 3-6, really is a “smart” bike — using Bluetooth to sync with the tablet — and allowing the kids to choose one of four downloadable games (iOs or Android compatible).
Fisher-Price notes that the bike is designed to introduce kindergarten-readiness curriculum that progresses as the child pedals. So the more the child pedals, the more educational content the game will kick out. The apps sync and respond to how fast the child pedals as well as which direction (forwards or backwards). Parents can purchase additional apps featuring some favorite characters, such as social studies with SpongeBob SquarePants. There’s even a STEM exploration curriculum, which is kind of impressive considering it’s just a kid pedaling on a bike going nowhere.
For $150, parents can set up their own preschool spin class, right in their living room. The bike will also hook directly up to a smart TV or through a device like Apple TV, allowing your little one to pedal her heart out on the big screen. And of course, a parental dashboard allows you to check your kid’s cycling progress and commend them on their prowess.
Fisher-Price tells Babble that they envision preschoolers using the new Smart Cycle as a way to burn energy and have fun — and that the screen is totally optional.
“Even without the apps, we envision kids just loving the action of pedaling with no screen at all. For preschoolers, the pedaling action of riding a bike is new, challenging and fun, so just moving alone without the apps can be thrilling and provide them with a sense of independence.”
Honestly, I just don’t know what to think about this. On one hand, hey, it’s a way to get kids moving, right? And that’s never a bad thing. Classroom strategies for students in school have focused on how movement can actually enhance learning, so the idea of a stationary bike paired with an educational tool for kids is nothing new.
And let’s face it — not only are preschoolers in particular drawn to screens, but most of our kids are using screens in one way or another anyways, so why not have them using those screens while they are moving at the same time? It makes sense when you think about it. With so many health risks linked to our culture of sitting on our butts, the trends for future innovations in the workplace and classroom are looking at ways to increase movement, like this under-desk swing, even while sitting at a desk. So this could be just the beginning of training our kids to move while working their desk job someday.
But on the other hand, it also feels just a teensy bit wrong to see a preschooler pedaling away furiously in front of a tablet. Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but I prefer my preschoolers pedaling around outside while I sip my coffee and yell at them not to hit anything. Of course, not all families and children have that option, so it could be a great alternative to get your kids moving in a fun way at home.
Fisher-Price stresses that how often children use the Smart Cycle is at the parent’s — and child’s — discretion.
“We created the Think & Learn Smart Cycle content to be bite-sized so it could be played in bursts. Preschoolers have varying attention spans, so while some might play for just a few minutes and return later, others may have fun pedaling through the content for 45 minutes once a day. It all depends on the child and the parents’ preferences.”
The Smart Cycle will be available in the U.S. in the fall of 2017, but you can visit the Fisher-Price website to learn more about about the Think & Learn line.
Would you buy your child a Think & Learn Smart Cycle?
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