The downside to raising geeks, assuming that there is one, is that my boys are much more interested in exercising their minds than their muscles. They would rather build a Lego set, read a book, or play on any number of electronic platforms than catch a baseball, and while the former options may serve them well in the big picture it is their short game that worries me. One cannot go through life being all thumbs (although, according to my dog, it is preferable to going through life sans thumbs, so perspective!).
Zamzee wants to help. Zamzee is a meter that kids (and adults, we can have healthy fun, too!) can clip onto their waistband before being forced outside to “go do something!” It measures activity (and the various levels of it) and when plugged into a computer via its built-in USB it burns all that energy and turns it into points. Yes, points. Zamzee’s goal is to make moving fun. Also, to make money.
A Zamzee meter costs $29.95 plus shipping, which is not a bad price for inspiring children to run and play a few hours each day (true story). Additionally, parents can purchase “Goalz” that act as an allowance for physical activity. Goalz are available in $5, $10, and $20 increments, and when kids earn enough points to reach said Goalz they are rewarded with Zamz, which can then be spent on actual, tangible prizes at the Zamzee shop. It’s really not as complicated as it sounds.
Zamzee provides inspiration for exercise, as well as lessons in fiscal (Zamz) responsibility, the setting and reaching of goals, and plenty of interactive online fun. The site allows for the creation and personalization of avatars, friending other Zamzee users, earning badges (yes, we need them and they don’t stink at all), and the leaving and liking of status updates which are pieced together from three menus of static kid-friendly silliness.
I have two boys (6 and 9) and the younger one is pretty eager to get outside whenever his brother will join him, but it is pretty rare that it happens by choice (however, it is much more common by force). They were each provided a Zamzee meter by the good people at Zamzee and suddenly things took a turn for the sake of turning, and then a jump, and some running, too. Then more jumping.
Their favorite feature of the Zamzee website is the ability to accept challenges which will multiply points created within a set time by X amount, which often has them ending their night by doing jumping jacks in the living room for ten minutes, and I’m okay with that. My favorite feature of the site is that I can track both boys on one family account (accounts are free and the family account is separate from their respective individual accounts), because, frankly, I’m too tired for much else after chasing point earners around the yard.
I give Zamzee two thumbs up — two slightly callused, but fairly proportional thumbs.
I was provided two (2) free Zamzee meters for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own (also, my kids).