How Children Can Use Computers to Better Learn About Staying Healthy
Children don’t just need valuable tools and knowledge to understand their bodies and minds, but they also need these to make informed health-related decisions. In education, technology improves learning outcomes by allowing children to take control of and be engaged in their learning process. In the same light, computers and related technologies allow children to become empowered and responsible for their own health. The good news is that this information is very accessible. Most children in the U.S. have access to the internet, with a recent survey by the National Center for Education Statistics putting that figure at 95%.
Here are the ways that children can use the wealth of information and resources at their fingertips to stay healthy.
Being Empowered to Seek Health Information
Health literacy involves access to health information and the application of this information to one’s health behaviors and actions. With the use of technology, children become active participants in the development of their health knowledge and understanding. Rather than being passive receivers of health education from their parents, teachers, and doctors, computers empower children to seek information about how health affects their lives, as well as how and when to improve their health.
Despite the empowerment that children have thanks to technology, parents must still play a supportive role in developing their kids’ digital literacy. A study on children’s digital health literacy through a school-based program explains that kids already have the opportunity to actively search for health information online since they personally own phones and computers. However, they still need help in identifying credible health sources, as well as discerning between good and bad health information.
Tracking Physical Health with the Help of Technology
Making health-related decisions also involves numeracy skills, which are useful for understanding the dosage of medication or when reading labels from food packaging. For children, numeracy skills can also help them track their health in terms of nutrition, sleep, and exercise. This is especially important now that healthcare and technology are connected through the existence of mobile apps and wearables that collect and analyze health data.
Child-centered wearable technology like the FitBit Ace, for example, naturally fit into daily kids’ routines and have features for counting how many steps the wearer takes, how many minutes they are physically active, and how many hours they sleep. Meanwhile, The Sugar App can help children monitor their sugar intake. By entering the name of the food or scanning the barcode on the food label, the app can automatically calculate the sugar amount. When kids interact with such technologies, they can use evidence-based data to track their physical well-being and make healthier lifestyle choices.
Making Healthy Living Fun and Interactive
Applying the gamification concept that helps kids learn and perform better in school can also aid in promoting healthy lifestyles through interactive websites and apps catered towards kids. The gamification of exercise apps frames healthy habits as quests and goals that children must successfully do in order to achieve rewards within the game and better health outcomes in real life. The mobile app Pikmin Bloom encourages kids to go outdoors with the use of avatars and creatures that follow the user as they walk, jog, or do physical activities. It uses elements of a video game to level up or earn in-game items after measuring things like the distance walked or the number of steps taken.
The road to health literacy starts at home, which means parents cannot simply hand over the responsibility to technology when it comes to teaching and guiding children on their health and wellbeing. Rather, technology merely serves as a tool for expanding learning opportunities and ensuring that the children have fun in the process.