The tech company GoNoodle has a simple mission: help your child learn new things using a mobile device.
As Forbes reported, the company designs mobile games, interactive tools and family friendly entertainment that look to improve your children’s life, offering them opportunities to embrace physical activity and learn about new subjects that can enhance their minds.
“Choosing from hundreds of customized videos, teachers and parents use GoNoodle to effectively direct a child’s energy, while breaking away from traditional methods of teaching to make the learning experience fun and entertaining, as opposed to exhausting or disinteresting,” according to Forbes.
GoNoodle, which launched in 2013, spent close to six months testing out its games and apps. Now, they are used in more than 600,000 classrooms across the nation. They are also inside millions of family homes. The games act as ways for children to continue learning while also playing at home.
GoNoodle CEO and co-founder Scott McQuigg told Forbes the idea for the project began when he and his co-workers noticed their children weren’t engaging in physical activity, remaining focused on their mobile games instead.
“The lack of physical play by our kids and their friends had us concerned they were missing out on the fun of childhood,” McQuigg told Forbes. “And, we had an increasing awareness that sedentary lives were causing early onset of health conditions like obesity and diabetes in kids. Whether screen time at home, or sitting much of the school day, kids were not moving nearly enough, and it had become a societal issue that had to be fixed.”
McQuigg said the greatest challenge he and GoNoodle face is children constantly want to be entertained through devices and screentime.
Indeed, a 2015 study from the journal Pediatrics found that just about 97 percent of children have used mobile devices before the age of 1. These youngsters used technology for chores, quiet time and right before bed. In fact, children spent their screen time looking at a specific mobile device, like a tablet or smartphone, as well as watching television.
This has led to medical professionals suggesting specific time limits for children when it comes to screen time. Back in 2015, a group of pediatricians said children under 2 years old shouldn’t spend more than two hours per day on a screen, according to The Wall Street Journal.
More recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics unveiled a new set of guidelines for parents to follow, according to CNN. The AAP said that today’s enhanced digital world makes it difficult to set out hard and fast rules for how long children should spend on their screens. Rather, the AAP suggests that parents limit their child’s time spent using digital devices for entertainment.
The AAP recommends parents take careful consideration with what entertainment their children are exposed to on their digital devices.
"Shows like 'Sesame Street' are much better than standard TV, because they don't have advertisements, which tend to overstimulate children," Dr. Yolanda Reid Chassiakos, lead author of the "Children and Adolescents and Digital Media Technical Report,” told CNN.
When it comes to teens, parents may want to monitor how often their older children use smart devices, encouraging such activities as family time or device-free dinners to help them stay offline, according to CNN.
"This doesn't mean you can't play video games with your kids," Chassiakos said. "What's most important is that families have media-free time, and when digital media is used, it's used mainly for communication rather than entertainment."
And while parents have worked to eliminate digital devices from the home, educators have moved to add smart devices and tech into the classroom, according to Gizmodo. This is true for students in preschool through college. In fact, 73 percent of teachers said they used technology to enhance their instructions or to have children complete their work, Gizmodo reported.
And, as Gizmodo reported, research has found benefits to using this sort of technology. Of course, challenges still exist, like in schools where technology is not allowed.
“There is also the question of cost. Of course, there’s a price associated with schools purchasing the technology (and bringing teachers up to speed),” according to Gizmodo. “But even having kids bring their own devices can be an issue. Bring-your-own-device policies may draw attention to situations where some students are more privileged than others, and there is always the potential for theft.”
Still, with projects like GoNoodle, education and screen time appear to be working side by side.
“There’s growing awareness that an active kid is a kid that is ready to learn and has many realizing physical activity’s rightful place before, during and after school,” McQuigg told Forbes.
Herb Scribner is a writer for Deseret Digital Media.