We all know it's good to get kids outside and away from the screens but how badly do we need it? Most parents probably have a sense that their children can use more exercise but very few understand the severity of the societal trend that kids are much less active today and the kids of the past generations.
Published in 2017, the Aspen Institute's Project Play 2020 reveals some shocking statistics that carry one message: we need to fix youth sports.
Several major social-economic factors also come into play. Physical activity has a direct correlation to household income because families with resources can afford to send their kids to team sports and other extracurricular activities. Low-income households have the lowest participation in team sports. Team sports require not only money but also time from the parents to transport their children. Families with resources can take time off from work or afford a nanny to fulfill those needs. The net result is that lower-income families have the greatest susceptibility to a host of future health problems stemming from limited physical activity. A sedentary lifestyle, watching YouTube videos, and eating low-nutrition foods is a guaranteed formula for health problems down the road.
There's also a larger conversation about what social media is doing to our youth. Studies have shown an increase in the risk of depression, anxiety, and suicide that's correlated to screen time. Our digital devices are designed to keep us hooked with dopamine triggers that are similar to a Las Vegas slot machine. As a society, we've been allowing our kids access to tools of dependence (smartphones) much too early, at an age where their brains are still rapidly developing we're steering them into a life that's fully shackled to the smartphone triggers. This is dangerous on so many levels. A child may soon identify with the virtual world more so than they do with the real world leading to less social and physical interaction. This is a losing formula because we're essentially turning our next generation into robots that cannot function independently.
Children need to play and running around, with other children. There's much more beyond the activity itself that is creating long-term benefits including teaching kids communication skills and conflict resolution, physical movement, hand-eye-coordination, and creative problem solving just to mention a few. Physical activity several times per week also decreases the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and relieves stress.
ZTAG aims to get children of all social-economic backgrounds to engage each other on the field with a simple activity that's digitally enhanced: tag! Every kid knows how to run and chase, and if you turn it into a mission for all kids to participate in, then there's, even more, engagement generated. Over the past few years, we've been engaging with youth programs such as our local Boys & Girls Club to host ZTAG on a regular basis. Kids that normally don't engage in sports wanted to participate in our game because it resembled much more like a real-world video game than exercise. The engagement levels were high and we were even able to turn the game into a month-long competition with a league final.
Our goal is to host games in as many locations as possible, to the widest range of youth as possible. By becoming a ZTAG host, you have the opportunity to engage with your local youth hubs such as schools, afterschool programs, churches, camps, and birthday parties. You can give our youth the opportunity to participate in a wholesome activity that's fun, engaging, and a workout.
Given the current world situation with social distancing, the digitization of our youth has been accelerated. It is especially important now to make sure our kids are still getting the physical and social exercise they need while keeping social distance. ZTAG is able to help with this goal because the sensors can be tuned to activate at 6 ft apart.