All the worry about children’s screen time habits isn’t just about their brains. Experts are pointing out the health problems associated with our society’s increasingly sedentary lifestyle. But technology isn’t going anywhere, and it’s important for your child to use it for their present social and academic well-being as well as their future success.
Luckily, there are many ways to make technology work for your family rather than against it. Video games, for example, can actually be really good for your kids. Video games have the unique ability to capture a child’s attention and help them practice important thinking skills like focus, flexibility, and self-control.
Fitness and exercise video games are even better because they combine all that thinking skill practice with physical activity. Plus, research has shown that exercise contributes to brain plasticity and has lasting effects on a person’s ability to focus and concentrate. So here is a list of our favorite fitness and exercise video games, all of which happen to be for the Xbox One Kinect system, with links to their Playbooks so you know how to make the most of the thinking skill practice the games offer.
If you have a tween or teen who loves music or enjoys watching So You Think You Can Dance or Dancing With the Stars, they’ll probably enjoy Dance Central Spotlight. Though the game is an Xbox One Kinect exclusive, the base game with ten songs is just $10, with additional songs available for $1.99 (less when you buy song packs — a 20% discount on average). That means your kids can build a dance library based on their musical preferences, which makes the game much more enjoyable. They’ll use focus, flexibility, and self-control and get a good workout as they follow the dancers on screen to complete dance routines in varying styles and difficulties.
Kinect Sports Rivals brings the fun and competition of sports like bowling, jet-ski racing, target-shooting, soccer, and tennis to your living room. With rich, beautifully-rendered back drops and responsive Xbox One Kinect-powered controls, it’s a game your child can play by themselves or against a sibling or parent. (Yes, you! You should definitely play video games with your kids!) The Kinect Sports Rivals coach guides players through learning the moves before they are immersed in competitive gameplay. The learning curve makes mastering moves that much more rewarding.
Like Kinect Sports Rivals, Shape Up allows players to control the game with their bodies using the Kinect camera. More grueling than Kinect Sports Rivals, Shape Up has a complex scoring and statistic-tracking system and actually places a player’s likeness within the game. Designed as a personal-trainer of sorts, Shape Up only offers an online multiplayer mode, so it’s not the best for local competition between family members. That being said, its hectic arcade aesthetic adds humor and fun to what can often be a physically taxing experience. If your child likes intense competition and really needs to work out some energy, Shape Up is an excellent choice.
We’ve written Playbooks for exercise games on platforms besides the Xbox One Kinect. See more active games here. Does your family have a favorite fitness video game? Tell us about it in the comments or come talk to us on Facebook!