Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Keeping the Old in with the New




Keeping the Old in with the New
by Rachel Segrest
Most of us have probably heard a story beginning with, “when I was a kid all we had a was a ball to toss…” The truth of the matter is that a ball will never again suffice to occupy anyone for an entire day – even our dogs have more high tech toys to play with. 
For the most part, things like maps, books, and even bowling have been left behind. Why use a map when a GPS is far more efficient? Why bother with books when an e-reader will hold an entire library? But most importantly, why would a kid physically go bowling when he can just bowl from home? 
Today many traditional activities for children have gone digital. Digitized games have allowed children to enjoy most of their favorite activities from the comfort of home. However, many of these games don’t actually require kids to be physically active. Children can bowl a strike with a flick of a finger or run endlessly by holding a button; leaving the couch is optional. While this may be entertaining, modern technology is not realizing its full potential. In fact, according to the researchers, Ogden and Flegal, 20% of kids between ages 6 and 11 are obese (childstats.gov). Do I sense a connection between obesity and inactivity? YES! 
Nintendo was on to something when it created the Wii, which integrates physical movements into the digital world. Adventures in Yogaland is taking this concept a few steps further. By using a digital character, Chloe the Yogi, the Adventures in Yogaland app teaches yoga to kids while allowing the adults in their lives to participate in the fun as well. The e-book/app is compatible with tablets like the iPad and Nook, which makes the gift of yoga available to the largest number of children. 
Consider the findings of Pew Research Center, which estimates that 11% of Americans own a tablet. That’s about 33 million people! These tablet owners are able to practice yoga with any of the children in their lives: their kids, nieces, nephew, brothers, sisters, cousins and anyone else with whom they’d like to share the gift of yoga. The portability of tablet computers combined with the versatility of yoga allows both kids and adults to get out of the house and experience a fun and rewarding activity together, anywhere from the living room to the park. 
After the baby boomers came the echo boomers, which is the generation categorized by a desire to learn while being entertained. The next generation has an even higher demand for entertainment, which is further intensified by rapid technological developments. With its digitally integrated approach, the Adventures in Yogaland app provides kids with a way to appreciate and understand yoga in the format with which they are most comfortable.
 A few months ago I was playfully chatting with my nephew, Cullen. At the incredibly advanced age of three and a half, Cullen uttered a common group of words, which I had only heard from college students and the like – and even from them, I did not like the connotations that surrounded these words. 
“What did you just say??” I asked with complete shock. 
Unaffected, Cullen repeated his question, “Aunt Rachel, do you have Angry Birds?”
While Cullen poked around on my smartphone, searching for a game that he would never find, I let the reality of what he had said sink in. Please understand that I think most apps/games are a waste of time. I advocate actually doing things rather than virtually doing them. Hurdling down the New York streets on my bike, reading a book, or simply talking to a person ranks leagues higher than playing with small cartoon birds. After this incident, I took care to press blocks and books upon Cullen, while I kept my smartphone safely hidden away.
When I learned about Adventures in Yogaland, I was thrilled! Not only does it teach kids a life skill that can be used in the real world, but it allows adults to participate also. I immediately thought of Cullen and how much fun he would have learning yoga. He has a ton of energy, plus he loves to sing and dance, so I know this wonderful innovation is perfect for him. Whether I like it or not, Cullen and his peers have grown up watching Baby Einstein on lap tops and playing Angry Birds on smartphones. These kids could probably figure out the computer system at NASA before any of us could add a contact into the next iPhone. Adventures in Yogaland is one of the first tablet apps to take advantage of children’s tech savvy and to use that savvy for the children’s betterment. Yoga is an age-old practice that has changed lives all over the world; meanwhile new technology is continually spreading to every corner of the globe. Whoever coined the phrase, “Out with the old and in with the new” was severely misinformed. Sometimes the sweetest things in life just combine the old things we love with a new way of understanding. 

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