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Do trampolines need screens for kids to use them? Not in my backyard

A trampoline is a great family Christmas gift. A big-ticket item that kids of all ages can enjoy, will last longer than five minutes before it breaks and requires no batteries.

Until now, the main challenge of such a trampoline purchase was the nightmare-before-Christmas set up.

But now there is a new challenge — deciding whether you want to add a screen to your trampoline.

The trampoline company Springfree offers a system of sensors that combine with a tablet to transform your trampoline into an electronic play pen.

"Four sensors on the mat connect wirelessly via Bluetooth to a tablet," says the marketing material. "Using the body as the controller, the sensors track movement."

In practice, this means that your jumping can control an electronic game on the screen and you can see how often and how high you jump.

They call the system "tgoma", a clumsy acronym for "take games outside and make them active".

The trampoline does not include an actual device — you need to use your own iPad or tablet.

The "smart trampoline", which has won two Australian Good Design Awards, has been available for just over a year.

But my tgoma is still sitting in its box. I have no intention of having a screen on my trampoline.

Outside time is screen free

My reasoning is simple. I bought a trampoline so my kids, then aged 8 and 11, have a fabulous play option that is outside, active, and screen-free.

Like many kids, mine are very attached to their devices. They use their iPads to play games and watch TV and YouTube. Currently, they are allowed to use their devices on weekends and one afternoon a week.

I asked Martine Oglethorpe, a digital parenting and eSafety expert, about how including a screen on a trampoline fits with guidelines for children's screen time. She provided a helpful, measured response.

"Guidelines should not be judged solely by the amount of time kids are using screens but rather the ways they are using them," Oglethorpe says.

"If technology encourages sedentary kids to get outside and play when they otherwise wouldn't be, that can be a positive."

I agree: not all screen time is equal (or equally bad). I am perhaps fortunate that, despite their attachment to devices, my kids are not naturally sedentary so do not need the lure of a screen to get them on the trampoline.

Bouncing on the trampoline

It can be a help

Having a screen on a trampoline certainly does help some.

Manda Devine, a Sunshine Coast parent of three children aged between 21 months and 14 years, is very pleased she decided to include a screen with her trampoline.

"The tgoma helps our three autistic children with their coordination and following instructions," she says.

"They have hours of fun while practising things that come easily to others."

A device isn't everything

My biggest concern about having a screen on my trampoline is that it adds to my kids' growing expectation that a digital device is an essential part of every life experience.

Like all of us, my kids' devices are becoming integrated into their everyday lives.

In addition to playing games, they use their iPads for taking photos, setting alarms, looking up information, listening to music and staying in touch with interstate cousins.

This isn't all bad, but my concern is that kids (and adults) are moving quickly towards a default position that there is always an alternative available to "real life". And, that this alternative is better.

Active, outdoor play is one of the areas of my kids' life where screens are not present and are not sought out.

I do not want their devices integrated into their active play time.

The idea that a child needs an electronic device in order to enjoy outdoor activity — in a testimonial on the Springfree website, a child says: "I can come outside and be active and still have fun" — is my idea of a nightmare.

Oglethorpe agrees: "Technology shouldn't be the only way kids are able to enjoy physical activity. We must have other more intrinsic motivations to get active and we also want children to participate in spontaneous play."

My kids LOVE their trampoline (and I love every aspect of it except the screen option). My daughter practises hard to perfect acrobatic tricks and my son incorporates his love of ball sports and Pokemon into his jumping.

They don't even know that a screen option came with our trampoline.

In our house, second only to "Can I play on my iPad?" is "I'm going outside to jump on the trampoline".

And I refuse to merge these two requests.

Vivienne Pearson is a freelance writer.

Original Article

The post Do trampolines need screens for kids to use them? Not in my backyard appeared first on News Wire Now.

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